Friday, 28 January 2011

They don't ask you to name your 11 and your 14 substitutes...

Blackpool have been fined £25,000 by the FA for making 10 changes to their team that played Aston Villa in November.  What an absolutely ridiculous verdict.  I know the precedent was set when Wolves did it against Manchester United.  Their fine was suspended, Blackpool's wasn't because of the team they subsequently fielded in the FA Cup against Southampton.
Anyone who watches a lot of football will know that fresher players are often better than those who may have that extra bit of skill just because the game is so demanding.  I also don't think it's up to the FA to decide what a clubs best team is, surely they should be able to adapt their team for different games where they feel different challenges are going to be faced.  I would say against Villa you would need fresher players than normal just because of the sheer pace they seem to possess throughout their attack. 

I also see this case as another case of picking on the little club.  How often do Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal play their strongest 11 in a season?  Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri had the nickname "The Tinkerman" due to the amount of changes he always made.  We didn't once see him punished.  I remember Liverpool (I think under Benitez) going forever without naming the same team, they weren't punished.  

I think Sir Alex Ferguson actually sums up how ridiculous this is:
"You are allowed to have 25 players, they ask you to name them.  They don't ask you to name your 11 and your 14 substitutes!"

Anthony Glees - Terrorism Expert, Civil Liberties Apologist?

I am wondering if anything has ever made me as angry as I was watching Anthony Glees (AG - Terrorism expert, Buckingham University) on 10 O'Clock Live.  He was brought in for a debate chaired by David Mitchell (DM) relating to control orders (against Rizwaan Sabir (RS - who was wrongly accused of being a terrorist) and Afua Hursch (AH - a legal expert)) as the voice for stronger policy.  Really the whole conversation he infuriated me, it starts about 36 minutes in if you don't want to watch the rest.  I shall here just pick out snippets:

DM: In a free country how can it ever be right to hold people without charge?
AG:  Because it is only by holding people who want to destroy the values of this country that we can remain free.
Well, like David so rightly points out to him the people who aren't in prison remain free.
AG:  The people who are being imprisoned who would like the laws and rules of the Taliban to exist in this country, these are the people who stone young lovers to death we saw it on the TV yesterday, these are the people who amputate limbs.
I don't think anyone's arguing that these people do exist there are also people, like Rizwaan, who are falsely held under these measures.

DM: What happened to you?
RS: I was picked up whilst conducting academic research applying for a doctorate.
AG: Tell us what that academic research was?
RS: That was comparing the military tactics of Al Qaeda and Hamas (AG Laughter) and I downloaded a document from the most radical of websites: The United States Department of Justice.  This was the document that caused such a furore…
AG: No no, it was what you did with the document that caused the furore, you passed it on to somebody and you photocopied it.

I'm sorry, I must have missed the new legislation that made photocopying legal documents and passing them on to somebody an illegal act, of course he must be a terrorist, nobody ever photocopies something for innocent means in academia! What a ridiculous argument - when pushed on this point he just reverts back to talking about "the people who support Al Qaeda".  The only way you could make a worse point is if you tried to use another case of somebody being wrongly accused to back up your point, oh wait...

AG: That’s not true again you see, people applaud for that but in fact there is evidence.  Think of the people who came, pretending to be students, who came to the north east, operation pathway was…
RS: was nonsense
AG: He say’s that’s nonsense.
RS: It was, they were released without charge, that’s nonsense.
AG:  I’m not saying, you know, you’re a terrorist don’t get me wrong.

Another case of prejudice assuming they are guilty.  One final statement I want to highlight is:

AG:  You see I think one thing has to be stated very very clearly, we do not have civil rights in this country that allow the rights of terrorists and would be terrorists to be put above civil rights of people who want to go about their business in a peaceful and normal way.

Overall what I think Anthony Glees fails to see is that these people who have these measures put on them also have rights.  Just because the police/MI5 suspect something doesn't mean they are definitely right!  Therefore anyone subject to these measures has had their rights removed without a chance to defend themselves!
The gist of the problem is it doesn't solve anything.  If they are innocent then they have had their rights and freedoms taken away from them without a fair trial.  If they are guilty then they are still walking about in society.  The evidence against them should be used against them in a court of law and judged on its merrits. 

Overall I still say the coalitions policies are better but obviously they are a long way off the ideal.  As for 10 O'Clock Live.  Well I think it is a good show.  It fills a need that will hopefully get more people interested in politics however it definitely suffers from having too many presenters.  I don't think they've really figured out what it's supposed to be yet.  The pieces seem a little rushed in places and David Mitchell's (who has been excellent in every other segment he's done) interview with Alastair Campbell last night missed the mark in so many ways (not insightful or remotely funny).  It does however create a good platform for the sort of debate last night saw, in front of a very young crowd, which can only be a good thing.

Where to draw the lines?

The Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill is about to make it's way through the Houses of Parliament and I realised that I haven't passed comment so far.

With regards the voting systems element of it I am split, I want proportional representation obviously, however I also like that an MP is linked to an area and works for that constituency.  AV is obviously a step forward from FPTP as at least 50% of the electorate have to be happy with the candidate for them to be elected but it may still produce just as many "safe seats", we just don't know what the mix will be like.  Obviously I will be voting Yes, but it's not something I will be campaigning on as I don't think I could argue as passionately for it as I could PR or STV. 

The second part is what I wish to focus on really.  I am really rather torn with regards the redrawing of boundaries and the reduction in the number of MPs.  I feel I may be in the minority on this point, I can totally see the argument for the reduction (as many MPs have given up on a big political career and are therefore only out for what they can get from it and it is a big cost cutting exercise), however I am not in favour reducing the amount of people who represent the population.  I know we have a relatively large figure for our population size but I think that is a good thing.  With regards politics I don't want to see it more and more restricted so fewer people are involved in making the decisions that influence our lives.  I want as many people as possible involved in the discussions, able to have their say and to cast their vote.  I feel reducing the numbers will reduce the variety of candidates and elected MPs resulting in fewer potentially questioning people who could raise an opinion that otherwise would be missed.  I think more MPs leads to a more pluralist society and it would be a shame to reduce these.

With redrawing the boundaries I think it's much fairer for them all to be clustered around an average, to normalise their size, it will lead to increased legitimacy of the election and an increased mandate (though not as large an increase as PR would provide).  However I feel we must be very careful to ensure that these are not arbitrarily drawn and local dynamics are not changed.  We do not want the situation where people feel even more disenfranchised with politics as they are casting their vote in a place where that they feel no connection to.  I know my vote is for Don Foster and I know of the work he does for the people of Bath, I would hate to be in a situation where I wasn't voting for a candidate in this constituancy but in the next one over which will hardly effect me at all.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

“If you do not have growth, you will never cut the deficit.”

That is a quote from Ed Miliband from this week's PMQ's.  This is absolute nonsense and implies a linear relationship between economic growth and budget surplus/deficit.  Of course, as highlighted by Keynes there should be a positive correlation between the two - when the economy is growing less expenditure is needed/more taxation generated so there should be a budget surplus and when it is in recession governments should stimulate the economy with additional spending.  However if this was a perfectly binary relationship we wouldn't have had years of budget deficit (creating the mountain of debt we already had before the credit crunch) in the "boom" years under the previous labour government.  

There are many examples of how cuts can be made without even impacting on growth at all.  For instance, our international aide (which I am very supportive of) adds nothing to the gross domestic product of our economy, if we didn't pay any of this out the budget deficit would be reduced - growth didn't influence this reduction one bit.  Find cheaper credit for our debt, will reduce our (huge) interest payments and therefore the deficit - again, this didn't come into effect because of growth.

I have always found the obsession with growth rather strange, for me personally I couldn't give a damn if the country is growing or not, surely what matters is the prosperity and living standards of those in the country.  Growth and prosperity are two completely different things.  I also definitely don't see how the Government can generate growth as it only ever spends money taken from it's citizans/businesses (though education could be seen as a growth generator for the future).  Any growth has to be lead by the private sector and private sector investment.  The easiest and most direct method of investing in an economy and then generating the growth (that is so desired) is by giving people and businesses their own money and then allowing them to decide how to invest it.  There are obviously externalities and free rider problems that Governments try to solve but these themselves do not generate growth so I think governments go to far with their spending in a misguided attempt to stimulate the economy, which as a result leads to increased borrowing and higher interest costs forcing them to spend future money on financing at the expense of improving people's lives.

The reaction from the Chancellor was not good enough after the announcement of a contraction of the economy in the last quarter of 2010, he blamed it on the snow.  Yes I'm sure that the snow had some effect, but it wouldn't have wiped off that much of the country's GDP.  Channel 4's fact checker does a lot better job of describing the forces that acted towards this - and also discrediting Miliband's assertion that we are cutting too much too quickly.  It's worth a read.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How do you plead?

Here it is, my make or break, why I'm a member of the Liberal Democrats and why I'll almost certainly never vote for Labour again, one of my core beliefs: Civil Liberties.  Labour eroded so many freedoms that most of us take for granted during their 13 years in power that it beggars belief.  This has been the coalition's first major test (both parties wanted rid of ID cards), so how did they do:

Well some good points:

28 days detention without trail has been scaled back to the original 14 days.  This is good, but not great.  It is at least 10 days too long - I'd probably say 13 days too long.  If there is reason to detain someone then there should be reason to charge them with a crime.  It isn't exactly like removing this to a few hours/overnight would make us more vulnerable than other countries as very few have such measures in place.  I am pleased it has been reduced but it doesn't feel like a victory (that's 2 weeks of someones life they are taking).

 Police can no longer "stop and search".  Section 44 has been removed and is a great improvement.
Safeguards have also been added to the "Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act", which hit the headlines last year when Poole council used the act to see if a family was sending it's children to a school that was outside of it's catchment area.

However that said, there is a bad thing, control orders have gone, but have been replaced by Control Orders Lite as they are being called.  Suspects are still tagged and have to name an overnight residence (which may vary) but curfew's removed.  Certain other freedoms are also still removed, such as using a mobile phone only if numbers are supplied and passwords supplied for internet use, ban on overseas travel and meeting other suspects (both understandable I guess) and worst of all ban on visiting places where surveillance would be difficult.  As far as I am concerned though the crux of the matter is that these suspects are punished without ever being found guilty of a crime.  In the UK we have a great history of innocent until proven guilty, this goes completely against this.  Not only do these people not get a fair trial they do not even see what they are being accused of.  

I wish I could find the figures somewhere that show how many people have been:
a) Detained for longer than say 3 days without charge, then how many of them were eventually charged and found guilty of their supposed crime.
b) How many people are or have been under control orders, how many of these have subsequently been released and no charges brought against them.  
c) How many lives has this saved?

This is people's lives that are being damaged, not just theirs but their family and friends as well.  If there is any evidence that they intend on hurting other people then fine, put them before a judge and jury and see if they think the evidence stacks up.  If there is not any evidence then punishing them is just moving one step closer to a police state.  You only live once, paranoia, scaremongering and wanting to be seen as 'tough on security' cannot be used as a reason to potentially ruin someones life.

So how have they done?  I'll give them a C-, it's an improvement no question but it is hardly resulting in a freer society.  How would we have done if the Lib Dems were not in the coalition?  That is the real question.  We could have voted against any proposal but we wouldn't have received any support from Labour who I'm sure would increase any powers (90 days sound familiar?) and I think the Tories would have just watered down the 'stop and search' perhaps also letting the 28 days elapse back to 14 also. As such I'd give the Lib Dems a C+, rising to a B if some senior figure comes out and says that all of the steps are a move in the right direction but still fall short of what Lib Dems in power would achieve (B+ if that person is Nick Clegg).

Monday, 24 January 2011

Two yellows make a red...

In the world of sport there was one talking point from the weekend, why someone is still in a job.  If you'd asked me on Friday who that sentence might relate to I would have assumed Avram Grant or Gerard Houllier, but no, this is quite clearly Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

Prior to the start of the match between Wolves and Liverpool they were caught off air discussing the appointment of a female assistant referee for the match.  It's worth a listen, illuminating.  I genuinely am amazed that Sky haven't fired them on the spot.  Those outdated opinions just show the prevailing attitude in the sport which needs to change. 

There was some good news about this story though, there was a "big one" and Sian Massey got it 100% spot on, despite having only a split second to make her judgement and assess everything she got it right.  I've seen occassions where despite all of their expensive equipment Andy Gray has got it wrong.  Hopefully Sian proving she can do the job as well as any male will help to break down the barriers that appear to be in place.  

There other comments relate to Karren Brady.  Now I wouldn't be overly keen with her and the Davids running Hartlepool United, but that is solely because I feel they comment too much on footballing matters rather than leaving this to the manager.  Karren however always speaks elloquently and the comments Richard Keys was commenting on were relating to her victimisation due to her sex which cannot be right.  This just shows how far behind the times some people are, their behavior has no place in sport or other walks of life.

I hope Sky come to their senses and find more suitable people as ITV had to do following Ron Atkinsons racist comments and Sky themselves managed to do after Rodney Marsh's Tsunami joke. Their comments may not have been live on air but the publicity has been just as big.  

Though maybe you think I am blowing this all out of proportion?  I mean most of the women I know can't explain the offside rule.  The problem is they made it personal against people who clearly can and then belittled anothers opinions.  There was at least two yellow cards in there and as we all know, two yellows most definitely make a red.

Friday, 21 January 2011


Drug policy around the world and particularly here always has me annoyed at the complete lack of decent policy and how governments bow to tabloid pressure.  I was hoping that with Liberal Democrats sat around the cabinet table we would move closer to a situation where evidence and not sensationalist headlines are what policy makers use to form their policy.  As far as I am aware the current Lib Dem policy includes "The Liberal Democrats will place policy making in the drugs field on a much firmer evidence-based footing".  (I don't have too much time and this was the best link I could find for the detail.  

It saddens me therefore that Dr Hans-Christian Raabe has been added to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.  For those who are unaware of his history read Mark Easton's blog which includes a brief overview which points to why I am disappointed.  I am afraid that the Tories are keen to push their moral compass on us all (that it is immoral to enjoy ones self unless it is done in the same manor we choose, being intoxicated other than alcohol is bad for you spiritually, etc).  I can see them filling the ACMD with people who will only give negative opinions/suggest tighter restrictions just so they can follow their "advice", they will then be able to show that they followed expert advice where as Labour did not.  It is just a shame that Labours advice was based on scientific research and general considered argument where as I cannot imagine Dr Raabe's will be anything other than blind faith in what he feels is right or wrong.  I fear today will be a backward step towards a more liberal society.

I really hope before I die we have turned into a society where drugs are taken away from the criminals and brought into the open, so those who are struggling can get the help they need.  Where children are given proper education on the potential harms (along with proper sex education) of drugs and how their misuse can effect people in later life.  A society where adults are not treated like children but are left to make their own informed decisions about how they want to live their lives, without the government trying to micromanage them under health or moral grounds.  I feel that this dream is slipping further away even as I type. 

The elephant in the room

The big UK sport talk at the moment is regarding the future of the Olympic stadium.  I am surprised both Spurs and West Ham wish to move there, Upton Park always strikes me as a ground with a great atmosphere, moving to a new stadium would in my opinion remove some of their home advantage (as per Southampton when they moved to St Mary's) and if Spurs moved they would be moving into West Ham's territory away from where their supporters think of as home.

I don't have a preference either way regarding this, but what I do find incredibly surprising is that this issue is being discussed at all in 2011.  I was under the impression in 2005 (granted as a naive 19 year old) that the bid had a plan for when the Olympics had finished.  David Bond has been summarising on the BBC what is wrong with the initial legacy plans but how did nobody see this as a problem at the time?  It beggars belief!  In my opinion our bid should have included plans on how the stadium would be commercially viable after the summer of 2012, not to do so is a ridiculous waste of public money.  Why was the venue not designed as a multi sport venue?  I think it's the Stade De France that has a movable tier of seats that enables a running track to be hidden during football or rugby matches.  Why was nothing like this developed here?  Why was the 25,000 seater athletics stadium not questioned at the time?  You can see why people involved in the bidding process wanted a dedicated athletics venue, however surely someone from outside of this (presumably the government ministers outside of the process) should have asked these sorts of questions.  Maybe I am being too partisan here but this to me sums up Labour's legacy - overspending without really thinking through the end result or the overall goal (the money was there so spend it!)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

An idiot abroad?

I read a surprising piece today by Nick Bryant on the BBC.  The blog was regarding William Hague's visit to Australia, two things surprised me about this.  Firstly that it was the first I had heard about it, I like to think of myself as up to date politics wise, yet I've not noticed any mention of this previously.  Granted I haven't been following much Australian news (as I don't like the way disaster stories are covered by the press - that is not to say that the floods are not devastating and a terrible event) but on the main body of the Independent's website or the BBC's politics site the only article I can find without actively searching for this is the blog from the BBC's Australian correspondent.  

Maybe you don't think this is big news, however this brings me to my second surprising point, this is the first time a Foreign Secretary has visited Australia since 1994.  I find this astonishing that throughout the 13 years of Labour government they did not send the person responsible for foreign policy to Australia.  We will hopefully always have a connection with them that goes beyond other Commonwealth countries due to our history which is why the annual talks are more than welcome.  They are a vital ally and as such we should be strengthening our relationship with them, especially given their proximity to Asia.

I find this welcome news after the poor start to the coalition where the government appeared to just want to piss everyone off, now they are making up for Labour's 13 years of foreign policy that seemed to revolve almost exclusively around the US. The US are still the major international player and as such we should ensure our relations with them are good, but not at the expense of other nations.  If you couple this with the attempts to build bridges with China (although I don't think that trade mission was exactly successful) and Nick's popularity abroad things are looking up - if only we could get a good immigration policy!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Now is not the time to leave the coalition, 2015 is.

There has been a lot of talk from grass roots Lib Dems that now is the time to leave the Coalition, I read one piece that said we had done our bit, offered some stability, passed a budget and gained a referendum on switching to AV so it was time to leave.  I think he is wrong for a number of reasons:

Firstly, he's being naive if he thinks the AV vote will go ahead if we leave the coalition now.

Secondly, realistically the Liberal Democrats are never going to win an out right majority in an election, therefore we can only ever be an influence in government under coalition circumstances.  Our preferred voting method is proportional representation, this would almost certainly produce a coalition.  By leaving now it is like saying we don't believe in coalitions - or like saying to the electorate that under our preferred system you would suffer Labour-Lib Dem coalitions for eternity.  I think we need to show that we can work with anyone, even the Tories.
Finally, it is no coincidence that this person is a councillor up for reelection this year.  This is like saying we would rather put short term election chances ahead of implementing a long term plan and the overall implementation of our policies.  Besides, our rating is so low at the moment that even the stimulous of leaving wouldn't be enough of a boost for the polls, our only chance of positive polls is to see this through and hope that our reforms work out well and inpact on people's lives in a positive manor despite the cuts.

I am a supporter of the coalition in general.  In my opinion the only major mistake the Lib Dems have made so far is the tuition fees debacle and as I read from somewhere else this could have been so much better if it had been spun differently.  Imagine if Vince's first response to the Browne Report had been to say:

"This is a terrible report commissioned by the Labour Government, there is absolutely no way a University should be able to charge unlimited fees.  As a Liberal Democrat I would be unable to vote for this, as such we will make a more progressive policy with our coalition partners."

Sounds a lot better than saying he basically agreed with it.  Then when the policy announced actually release figures of how much it will cost students and emphasise that none of this is payable up front.  I still haven't seen official details published of what the average student will pay over 30 years compared with previously.  This should have emphasised how those who following university go on to be more successful end up paying more than previously where as those who aren't as successful in financial terms don't.

There have been a few other negative things, but we are in a coalition, it is about compromise.  I would much rather stay in government and see some of our policies getting enacted than in opposition and have none.  I would also much rather be a member of the Liberal Democrats than support Labour, I don't like the derogatory side of politics, just insulting the other side, I think the argument should be about what you would offer instead rather than just objecting to the other side without offering any different.  I also like my financial spokes person to know the rate of employer's national insurance (it's not like it wasn't a big talking point at the last election).  I don't want my reasons for supporting the coalition to be about why Labour are worse, so here is my good points:

Increasing the basic rate of tax.
Targeting funding in schools via the pupil premium.
A vote on AV.  (I'm not sure if I support AV, but it is better than FPTP).
Improving civil liberties - removing control orders, stopping child detention (has fallen from on average 50 being held to just 3 before any legislation has passed), removal of ID cards.
No deficit denial, active efforts to bring government spending closer to income.
There are more reasons, they are just my main ones.  I know the budget was a Tory budget, but I think it is better than a head in the sand budget (like the ones America have been passing) or what the Tories would have produced on their own. 

If this government fails before 2015 and another election is called it will just show that politicians don't mean what they say, and after the tuition fees that is the last thing we want.

What a Twitt...

I like to think of myself as someone who is for free speech, however I get the impression I am less so than I thought.  I have one caveat to my belief and that is it shouldn't inflame hatred of anyone else.  That's quite a difficult thing to judge as it turns out.  

Take the recent post from Ryan Babel for instance.  Now most advocates of free speech are coming down on the side of the player however I find myself taking the opposite view point.  There are a few reasons mainly the fact that he is a professional footballer, the FA are tasked with the refereeing of these professional games and he has agreed to play by these rules.  As a result I see his comment and picture similar to that of an employee posting negative things in relation to a manager of their company, in such circumstances I can't see the company being too happy with the employee and I'm sure disciplinary action would take place.  If the FA just lets this go then they will open the door for any player to be derogatory to referrers and other officials which I don't see as a good thing.  If he had said that in an interview/made the implication then I'm sure he would have been charged for bringing the game into disrepute, I don't see how this is different.

I guess my actual opinion is that Ryan has every right to tweet what he did, however the FA also have every right to sanction him for breaching the rules of his profession which they govern.

I guess what most people will agree with is that he was a bit of a twitt for posting what he did and I'm sure he regrets it now and wishes he could take it back.

"Do you have a soul?" "That all depends"

A couple of musically themed articles/pieces I've read today.  One writes off "rock" as a genre, and the other writes off the record shop due to the recent announcement of HMV closing.

I guess the second is more nostalgia for record shops of the past, like the one in High Fidelity.  The author yearns for the old days of spending hours in a record shop surrounded by other music fanatics and thinks that these are disappearing just because HMV is closing 60 stores.  Whilst I admit there is increased competition due to the internet and as a result the industry of a high street music store is definitely in decline I don't think this has particularly effected HMV.  I don't know their revenue split between high-street and online but it increased by 3% in 2010 and profit after tax rose by 11% and nothing in their financials gives me cause for concern, so people should stop digging their grave.  It would be foolish for them to withdraw from the high-street all together because it would reduce their exposure and the public would probably assume that it went the way of Woolworths.

That said, although the author specifically mentions HMV he is obviously not talking about the soulless corporate giant that it now is.  I do still go there but they are over priced and hardly offer that High Fidelity experience.  These places do exist though, they are just much harder to find.  I share Mr Manzoor's

Friday, 7 January 2011

"Aussie BBQ: Cooked in our own backyard"

Have you ever seen a better headline than that (from Sydney's Daily Telegraph)?  As an English Cricket fan I can honestly say not much has given me more joy than watching us embarrass the convicts in their own backyard as we have done over the past seven weeks!

I've just re-read my pre-Ashes blog and I've never been so pleased to be so wrong.  I was right on a couple of fronts, Colly was hopeless and Bell proved that he is a class act (his series average of 65.8 was higher than KP who hit that double ton and Hussey who was the only noteworthy Aussie batsman!)
There were two main differences between the teams though: Alastair Cook being the first.  He was easily man of the series, finally becoming the batsman he always promised to be.  Definitely benefited from the fact that they Aussies can't swing the ball, but his technique was a million times better than over the summer.  Those 110 runs he scored against Pakistan in the third test were probably the most important runs scored in this series too.  They gave him back his self belief and now, instead of watching his bat during the delivery he is focused on the ball.  My main criticism of him was always that he got a score then got out without ever going on, well he's finally put that to bed!  Top performance!

The second difference was the bowling unit.  Jimmy lead the line superbly, Finn was expensive but took wickets, then Bres and Tremlett came in and did fantastically well.  I thought we'd really miss Broad but his stats are actually our worst (highest average with the ball, 0 with the bat), he did his job well in the first two tests and was unlucky not to take more wickets but Tremlett had the Aussies in his pocket!  Swann didn't have the opportunity to shine, the Australians nullified his threat with the pitches they prepared as they didn't have a spinner of their own but he did remarkably well considering, totally drying up the runs from his end.  Between their four spinners used they bowled 182.5 overs taking just 5 wickets at 133.2 runs per wicket.  The contrast was stark with the pace men too, if you take Perth out of the equation they just didn't look like taking wickets (bar Siddle in the first innings of the first test, that 6 wicket haul was good for us as he only took another 8 wickets in the next 5 innings).  Then you get onto Mitch, well:

He bowls to the left
He bowls to the right
That Mitchell Johnson
His bowling is sh...well you get the picture!

I could go on all day, about preparation, Australia's poor top order but I wont, and Tom Fordyce sums it all up much better, so here are my series ratings:

Alastair Cook: 10 (If you don't get 10 for a Bradman-esq series you never will!)
Andrew Strauss: 8 (Batting wasn't perfect, only averaging just over 40 but captained superbly)
Jonathan Trott: 9 (Second best average of the series, was just as hard for the Aussies to move, shame about his first ever duck)
Kevin Pietersen: 7 (Incredibly frustrating, one awesome innings but looked like he could do that every time and only managed one other fifty)
Paul Collingwood: 4 (Perfect in the field, that catch of Punter may have won us the series, just didn't do enough with the bat, however he retires with an average better than players like Athers and has won 3 Ashes series, not many people can say that!)
Ian Bell: 9 (No longer the Sherminator, now the Terminator, was stuck with the tail in his first few 50s, only two failures to add to 1 century and 3 fifties, despite Chef's success I still think he is our form batsman)
Matt Prior: 9 (23 catches and an average of 50 with the bat, can you really ask for more from your 'Keep?)
Stuart Broad: 4 (Bowled well without reward, unfortunately for him his injury lead to Tremlett getting a chance and he will be hard to drop now!)
Graham Swann: 6 (His batting average would have put him 4th on the Aussie list, his bowling was economical and he managed 15 wickets, not to be sniffed at!)
Jimmy Anderson: 9 (Lead the line brilliantly, 24 wickets is a great return for him, proved all his doubters wrong after his struggles 4 years ago, he is now a different animal!)
Steve Finn: 6 (England's leading wicket taker after 3 tests but was a little expensive, unlucky to be dropped and hopefully he'll play well to get back in the team, he is only young!)
Chris Tremlett: 8 (Was exceptional in his three tests).
Tim Bresnan: 8 (Did I ever say a bad word against him?)

I can talk about this all night, but I shall just finish with a few things:
2) Excellent comedy from the BBC
3) And finally the best image I think I've ever seen: