Sunday, 29 January 2012

An embarrassment...

I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed to say I'm an English cricket fan.

Don't get me wrong, Pakistan are a good side and fully deserved their win, but it's all about expectations.  I grew up with an English side full of good players but not a team, they would often suffer batting collapses and you would rarely fancy their chances of winning any test let alone a series.  This meant that any victory was greatly received, whilst any defeat was to be expected.

Now however they are the number 1 ranked test team in the world.  They got there by a combination of team work, effort and application of their skills.  Their batting had been phenomenal, last year they had some amazing averages:

With three of your batsmen, your wicket-keeper and a bowler all playing that well with the bat, you aren't often in a position where you can lose test matches (especially as another bowler - Stuart Broad was also averaging nearly 40).  Therefore when Australia, South Africa, India and others all had poor batting displays over the last 6 months or so I have been very critical and had indicated that this is why England were number 1, their batsmen had patience and determination to dig in when things were difficult...

This is why I am now embarrassed, I don't think I was overly cocky about our chances here but I did think we'd win.  Pakistan have a good bowling attack but I thought our batsmen would be a match - I couldn't have been more wrong.  Ian Bell (who I am a huge fan of), Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan have only scored NINETY FOUR runs BETWEEN them in TWELVE innings, this is an average of just 7.83 runs!  This is hopeless.  

No one has a batting average to shout about, Trott's 35 is acceptable as long as others chip in, Prior's and Broads of 32 and 28 respectively are good contributions for numbers 7 and 8 so they can't be criticised too much but the overall effort has just been so abject.  What's worse though is that the conditions weren't particularly difficult in any one of their batting displays.  Yes the ball was turning and it was a bit slow, but it wasn't keeping low or jumping up, all the turn was fairly predictable and all you need to do is watch the ball onto the bat.  

I wasn't a very good batsman even at my level when I used to play, my role when I went in tended to be to do my best not to get out so the guy down the other end could contribute a few more runs.  In that time I was never once (even in the nets) out to a spinner - yes the Pakistan spinners are a lot better than anything I faced and my only goal was to not get out, but players of England's quality shouldn't be scared about that, they only need to WATCH the ball onto the bat and CONCENTRATE.  

I really thought we were better than this.

I completely agree with Boycott:

  • The best team won - congratulations Pakistan, I agree with Michael Vaughan that they are the best sub continent side at the moment.
  • There is no excuse from England's point of view.
  • Our bowlers were fantastic (Broad should be up for man of the series, his performance as a seamer in these conditions have been outstanding, and he saved us in the first innings).
  • If you can't make runs it doesn't matter how you bowl you'll lose.
  • If we make runs our bowling is good enough to bowl them out.
Unfortunately I don't see our batting making runs and there's no-one to come in (Morgan shouldn't be there at the moment at all - this is where we miss Bresnan, he may not have bowled a huge amount but I'd be much more confident with him at the crease batting than Morgan).

Only result I can see is Pakistan finishing this series 3-0 and fully deserving it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Richard Branson - a man who talks sense...

A few days ago (yet again I'm slow writing about something) I was really pleased to see a high profile figure voicing a very sensible opinion on drug use due to his work as part of the global drugs commission.  Below is an interview he had with Sky News:

The main message he is setting out is that drugs should be a health problem and not a criminal one.  I have argued this many times that the way our society acts is one of punishment - taking drugs is bad/immoral/whatever and as such you should be punished.  In reality surely it would be much better for society if these people were not handed ridiculous criminal records and instead were given the help that they need (if indeed they need help) to become a productive member of society.

Anyone with a criminal record will find it hard to find employment, or at least as good employment as they could have previously obtained, as such they are not fulfilling their potential and we all lose out.  This is a vicious circle as once you hinder someone's chances by giving them a criminal record they are less likely to 'get themselves clean' and more likely to stay on drugs.

A point I hadn't previously raised regarding decriminalisation (or perhaps more appropriate to legalisation) is that by doing so you remove the ability of certain people to get others 'hooked' on a drug and become dependent on that person and as a result a life of crime.  

I disagree that the overall aim should be to reduce the number of drugs users (as I don't think that this sort of moral decision should be imposed by anyone), however the aim should be to reduce the harm to each individual and society as a whole, the only way I see this as being possible is to bring people out of the shadows so they can receive any support that they need and for those who don't have a problem to not have their lives ruined by a silly criminal conviction.

Basically it can be summed up on one phrase mentioned below:

"The war on drugs is not working - there needs to be a rethink".

It always pleases me to hear another sensible voice adding their weight to the argument, unfortunately I don't see any changes happening soon!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Pakistan v England Preview

Wow, it feels like forever since England last pulled on their whites to play Test Cricket, to be precise it will have been 148 days by the time they step onto the pitch in Dubai tomorrow when they face Pakistan in a three match series in the U.A.E.  Their last test series against India saw a 4-0 whitewash and them crowned number one in the world, so now sees the start of the hard task of consolidating this position.

Conditions in the U.A.E. will be unfamiliar, this is England's first tour there, they will also not be the easiest conditions to win matches.  In fact, since Pakistan have been using Dubai and Abu Dhabi as their proxy home games 1 out of 5 tests has had a positive result (a win for Pakistan in the series against Sri Lanka, 1-0 after 3 tests, with South Africa playing the other two drawn tests).  Since their time in England in 2010 Pakistan have also been playing very cautious cricket, as if to try and repair their damaged reputation, therefore I feel it will be difficult for England to take 20 wickets.

There is cause for optimism though.  England have won both of their tour matches, by 3 wickets and 100 runs respectively and the performance seemed to improve (although I didn't watch any).  Cook has got a century to his name, scoring 235 in his 3 innings so showing good form, in the second match Trott had a good knock of 93 to get some decent time in the middle and Strauss has managed two fifties.  The main downside has been the form of the middle order, Bell should be fine, he does well against Pakistan and had an incredible 2011, but there are question marks on both KP and Morgan in my mind - I hope they prove me wrong. 

The bowlers have all performed really well, particularly Stuart Broad in the first game and Monty Panesar in the second.  It's Monty that will provide the biggest selection headache.  I feel that in these conditions the best way to play would be to have two spinners, for me this would be in place of Morgan (who bats at 6) - this is what I would do and Aggers agrees.  Prior is more than capable of batting at 6, but this is where Bresnan is missed (he has an elbow injury) as he is capable at 7 with Broad at 8.  However it would be a big ask to move Broad up to 7.  I am sure that England will stick with the same mix that has served them so well over the past few years, which means leaving out Monty.  There will then just be a question Finn or Tremlett (who are both ahead of Onions in the pecking order).  Therefore I expect the side to be:

Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell (assuming his injury is okay), Morgan, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Tremlett.

This will lead to KP having to bowl a few overs and a lot of work for the seamers, I hope they are up to it.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the bowlers rotate a bit over the three tests, the freshness of Tremlett and Bresnan coming in against Australia is one reason I felt that we were so strong in the last two test in Australia last winter.

So, I'm going to stick my neck on the line and say that I expect England to win the series, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's 1-0 rather than a whitewash that some may be hoping for.  It is unusual for me to predict an England victory, I just have faith that when someone needs to step up they will, as has happened so often over the past two years or so.  My main hope for the series though is that it passes without controversy and the players all get on after the recent history the two teams have shared.  Hopefully this can be an advert for cricket and Pakistani cricket which has had so much negative press, particularly after the spot fixing scandal.

Terrorism is terrorism whoever's doing it.

One news story has deeply worried me is the recent death of an Iranian scientist.  What worries me is the lack of outrage and coverage it seems to be getting.  Most of the headlines I've seen on the issue implicate at least Israel in the death - if that read the other way round I'm sure there would be outrage in western nations should Iran have been implicated in the killing of a foreign scientist.

Reading around this I became more worried as this is just one of a series of incidents that I hadn't heard about at the time.  The full timeline can be read here.  I make that about 29 deaths in mysterious circumstances in two years

Reading about this lead me to an excellent article by Glenn Greenwald.  The post looks back to 2007 when apparently a right wing blogger named Glenn Reynolds advocated doing just what appears to be happening.  Under the impression that George W. wasn't doing enough to protect American interests he was recommending a stealth attack effectively picking off Iranian scientists and religions leaders.  This apparently, rightly, lead to a furious reaction amongst bloggers and the like who were keen to point out in particular that as the US was not at war with Iran what he was suggesting was nothing short of murder and illegal - it could even be classed as such if the US was at war.

Glenn Greenwald's post then goes on to despair at the lack of outrage now the suggestion is actually appearing to be becoming a reality.  It doesn't take a genius to work out that someone is targeting Iranian scientists for murder, admittedly the US is denying involvement and I haven't seen a serious article linking them to it so as such there is less reason for people to be up in arms in the US but you would still expect more of an outcry.

I can understand why people would see the deaths as a good thing, but at the end of the day whether or not Iran develops a nuclear weapon is not going to be down to a couple of scientists here and there, there would be a whole infrastructure working towards this.  Nobody would say that Iran developing nuclear weaponry would be a good thing for world security, however as I've said before that even though I hope they don't obtain the technology I can empathise with why they may feel the need for one.  

We can't be morally outraged by car bombs going off in Iraq or terrorist tactics used against us and then support the same tactics just because they are used by "our side".  The West's hypocritical stance on this (as well as torture) is something that really annoys me and I hope more people speak out against it!


Since I drafted this post last week there does appear to be a bit more of a negative reaction around (including this good piece by Jeff Sparrow)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

It's just not cricket (4)...

Unfortunately for Cricket 2012 is starting with further news to add to the cloud that has hung over the game for the past 18 months.  On top of the convictions for Butt, Asif and Ameer/Amir, the former Pakistan cricketers who were found guilty of spot fixing in the Lords test of 2010, there is set to be another conviction, this time for a domestic Pro40 game.  

Mervyn Westfield, 23, has pleaded guilty having agreed to concede 12 runs in his first over of the match against Durham whilst playing for Essex in 2009.  This "spot fixing" didn't effect the result, a century from a certain Alastair Cook and an excellent 83 off 47 balls from former England international James Foster meant Essex comfortably cruised home, despite Mr Westfield conceding 60 runs off his 7 overs.  

The irony is he wasn't even successful in his bid to concede 12 runs, he only managed 10.  The great thing about cricket with this is that it relies on two people, if the man down the other end just wants to watch a few deliveries to get himself set then you'll find it difficult to concede many runs and many players have found over the years no matter how hard you are trying to stop players scoring runs it is always possible for a batsman to best you.  

I am pleased to see that once this was uncovered he has been tried and will be sentenced (on 10 February).  I hope he faces equally stern punishment as the Pakistan players as even if the money involved isn't at the same level and the game wasn't as high profile it will still send a message to other players thinking of taking money to fix elements of the game.  Even if an act has no relevance on the outcome of the match as a whole, by conspiring to do such a thing you are cheating to make money which must be at the expense of others, this is wrong and the full force of the law should be thrown at you.

As I've said before, I hope that these are instances of cricket really clamping down on the plague that has probably infested the game for so long (it's been over 10 years since the Hansie Cronje affair, which is apparently to reopen) rather than part of the signal of it's demise.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

5 reasons I wont be voting for Ed Miliband...

Following his relaunch as erm, well the same person but trying to be more popular, I thought I'd list some of the reasons I wont be voting for him (the ones that came to mind whilst I was watching it):

  1. He bemoans that the next government will start with a deficit.
  2. He jumps on any bandwagon.
  3. He is potentially scaring students away from University.
  4. He was Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change between 2008 and 2010.
  5. He lets Ed Balls speak.

  1. His economic policy is so hypocritical - he's happy to throw the global climate as a mitigating factor for Labour's economic failings (yes it was a contributing factor but not the only factor) yet refuses to recognise Europe's slow growth is a major reason George Osborne isn't hitting his target.  One moment he is complaining that the coalition is bringing down the deficit too quickly (to a level below that which Labour would have left us with in 2015 - especially as their forecasts were based on farcically high growth figures) the next he is complaining that there will still be a deficit in 2015.  He starts talking about the difficult choices that will be made then as if the choices now aren't already.  Their whole policy is to put off the pain for another day, rather than realising that the markets do need this correction (I am certain of it) and it will be hard no matter what, so we might as well get it out of the way rather than bury our heads in the sand and let it hit even worse in 5 or 10 years time.  I'm not saying that if we followed their policies we'd be in the situation Greece finds itself in, however I don't think we'd be far off Italy and I certainly don't think we'd still be AAA.
  2. There are a few instances that I could cite, but I'm going to just use the one that sticks in my mind, back in December 2010 he was one of the main people calling for Vince Cable to be sacked following his declaration of "war" on Murdoch.  Yet as soon as the phone hacking scandal broke and the sheer outrage obvious amongst the public transpired he wanted to paint himself as the one who "took on Murdoch" - he wasn't doing much taking on when attending Murdoch's garden parties.  I admit that his relationship with Murdoch wasn't as cosy as Cameron's, but I'm willing to bet that if nothing had happened then it would have been fairly close by the time of the next election.
  3. Ed has been very vocal about the increase in tuition fees and the effect this may have on potential students. Yes the Liberal Democrats said they wouldn't raise fees and many have been complicit in allowing fees to shoot up, however Ed's magical solution of capping fees at £6,000 is totally hypocritical.  As I've pointed out previously not a single student pays fees, only GRADUATES do, and only once they are earning.  The fact that the fee system is in place means they receive more in loans/grants than Scottish students do whilst they are actually studying, therefore giving them money when they need it most.  As the students will have to pay their maintenance loans back and their fees it's only going to be the richest of graduates that benefit from Ed's cap, as those worse off wont end up paying the full amount back anyway.  The people who will benefit from £6k rather than £9k are those who everyone says should be taxed more - and here he is saying they should pay back less for their education (than the current government is) without reducing the contribution the lower earners will make.  Basically this is political opportunism and to me it stinks.
  4. He talks about the energy sector as if he's never had anything to do with it - pinning all the blame one Chris Hulme for the fact consumers get a raw deal.  If he were a man and admitted his past mistakes in this area in his speeches (I'm man enough to admit he did some good things regarding climate change) then I would have a lot of respect for him, but he doesn't.  In passing he says the former government made some mistakes - but never directly attributes this to himself.  All it would take would be for him to say that he realises that this was an area that he fell down but given his experience he recommends that Chris does *insert solution here* rather than glossing over the fact he didn't do it.
  5. I think this one is self explanatory, although maybe a bit harsh as I doubt anyone could control him.
(Harsh to include this again I
know, but I just love the photo!)
Now this may make me sound completely anti-Labour, I'm not ashamed to admit I've voted for Labour in the past (granted in a Labour/Tory seat) and wont rule out ever doing so again (though it is fairly inconceivable - would depend on the seat and the candidates).  I am not going to do a similar list for David Cameron because I have never voted Tory, nor will I ever.  However at the moment I am more comfortable with the Liberal Democrats being in coalition with the Tories than Labour - which shows just how much I dislike their current approach.  I am not exactly a floating voter, but should Ed ever want to win me back they would need a radical overhaul.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Cameron's faux pas and executive pay misconception...

Open Mouth - Insert Foot

Last week I think I was pretty ruthless with Diane Abbott regarding a poorly worded tweet and then what counts as an apology.  I don't think anyone believes Ms Abbott is a racist, the problem for me was that she didn't see anything wrong with her tweet (which was wrong in context as well as out of it) - as far as I'm concerned she only did so because she was ordered to, directly by Ed Miliband (which makes his tweet rather unfortunate - though I'll give him a break with regards that.)

As such I think I should be equally as hard on our current Prime Minister.  I guess I have some sympathy with him, simply because Ed Balls is one of my least favourite politicians, however you can't go around saying:

Tourettes seriously effects the lives of many people in the UK, with around 300,000 people suffering from it (only about 30,000 of which have the form which causes involuntary swearing), so it is disappointing to see Mr Cameron speaking in such a way.  He obviously hadn't engaged his brain before he started talking but that's no excuse.  The only thing I put in his favour is the fact that he did come out with an apology and seemed to realise that what he said was not something the Prime Minister should be saying.  The cynic in me worries that this highlights the lack of knowledge/care many/most people in the Conservative party have for people with disabilities - although it's more likely that DC just forgot his place.

Executive Pay

DC is hitting back by saying that there will be increased transparency on directors remuneration.  It is a laudable goal, reducing remuneration levels means more funds stay within the business for investment, increasing salaries of lower employees or more likely distribution to shareholders.  Those of you who don't care about shareholders should realise that the vast majority of shares are held by institutional investors, such as pension funds - i.e. indirectly, us!  

Now there are some good things in this sentiment, making shareholders votes binding for one.  However overall I have a problem with the aim of "transparency".  You see for me this wont work.  Think about your own company, what do you think would happen if suddenly everyone knew everyone else's salaries?  Well people would be wanting to get paid as much as those whom they deem equal to themselves as far as responsibility/type of work etc dictates.  Now multiply that over the entire economy.  If everyone knows exactly what "x" is earning in their comparable role then person "y" will be wanting to earn a similar level - or look to join the firm paying more.  This starts a race to the top as wages are sticky (a cost that is difficult to reduce once it's been increased) whilst increasing movement of staff.  Also backing up this theory is the following study.

That's not to say that transparency is necessarily a bad thing, but other changes are more necessary.  If you want to limit director pay then you have to take it out of their own hands as I have said before.  At the moment pay is effectively set by the "Remuneration Committee" which is made up of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) and as these NEDs are usually Executive Directors with other companies they are effectively setting their own market rate.  The alternative in my opinion is to overhaul companies structure to match the European way rather than the American.  This would mean rather than one mixed board of Execs and NEDs there would be two, an operational one made up of Executive Directors making the important decisions, with a second "supervisory" board made up partially of NEDs (as the Shareholders representatives) but also other stakeholders.  These other stakeholders would include representatives of the employees, the bank/whoever provides the finance and other interest groups (perhaps regulators etc). 

Whilst I'm pleased that somehow we have managed to get a Tory Prime Minister to talk about this issue I really hope that they look at the problem thoroughly before any legislation is introduced that could have the opposite effect to that they desire.

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Great Business Confidence Gap

There was an article on the BBC's website the other day "Go Figure: The Great Business Confidence Gap" which tries to ask how business leaders can be optimistic about their own companies future performance whilst being pessimistic about the state of the economy.

For me the reasoning's ridiculously simple, when judging their own fortunes they are close to the figures, they know their details, the issues that directly effect their company.  For the wider economy however, they rely on the media which are much more likely to publish negative stories as this is more likely to sell papers and get people interested.  As such they know the risks that directly effect their business and how to combat these, as well as what opportunities they can capitalise on.  

I speak partially from experience.  The company I work for is likely to have it's best year in 10 years for 2011 (figures to be finalised).  It doesn't appear that 2012 will be quite as good, however the contracted work we have already locked in suggest no reason for alarm.  

There are very logical reasons why people fear for the future of the Economy and why confidence here has decreased - mainly Europe.  To be frank, when Greece were the problem there wasn't much of a problem, as Greece only accounts for under 2% of GDP of the 27 European countries (about 2.5% of Eurozone countries).  Yes, the problems there were hard for the people there, however the wider impact should be limited.  In fact, Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined account for under 5%.  If you think of this as a single economy then this is totally manageable.  However, in recent months we've seen the increased instability in the Italian economy - this accounts for a much bigger problem (around 13% or 17% respectively).  It's no wonder that business leaders may think other companies could be effected by this, but many realise that this isn't a huge risk for their own company.  

Most businesses are actually in good shape.  Back in 2008/2009 many made redundancies as their profitability crashed (even though lots were still profitable), and since then rather than make investments they have retained cash within businesses.  Over in America the non banks in the S&P 500 have over $2 TRILLION sitting in their banks, the highest ever level. 

Keeping with America (I can't find details for UK/EU), corporate profits are at their highest ever level as is consumer spending.  After all, although unemployment levels are far from ideal, these tend to be people who usually fill lower paying jobs.  

Given that there are large numbers of unemployed it means that if a business is looking to recruit then there are large numbers of applicants for any position, meaning their wage demands aren't as high as they would have been had the crash not occurred, increasing the flexibility for a company.

Given what I've said above, I'm not worried at all about the US economy for 2012 and this tends to drive the global economy.  The major worry for the UK is our proximity to the EU - Cameron's "bulldog" approach in December will do nothing to help this.  If the European countries can keep themselves afloat then I see no reason for a business that is currently healthy to be worried about the future - although that's not what the media will tell you.

#ObscenityTrial - Finger deep within the borderline...

One trial that has caught mine (and apparently Twitter's) interest over the past few days is the #ObscenityTrial. Now I don't know all of the ins and outs (pun not intended) but according to the defence lawyer in the case the trial will:

The problem I have with this trial is that in order to be found guilty the material must be able to "deprave and corrupt" a viewer.  I personally am at a loss to see how anyone could be depraved or corrupted by these, not because some may make (at best) uncomfortable viewing, but because the end users actively sought them out!  Yet in order to make judgement the jury will see the videos - despite (presumably) not having decided that they want to see them.  (Question - if they find the defendant guilty, does that mean that the videos did corrupt them, and if they are corrupted can their judgement be valid?)

When all's said and done if a person, couple or multiple people enjoy an activity, everyone involved is of legal age and gives their consent and some people want to watch this where is the problem?  Just because some (most) people wouldn't chose to do certain activities doesn't mean that you should legislate against others doing it.  I would never willingly watch a Justin Bieber concert, but that doesn't mean I'd stop others enjoying the erm... experience, either by attending or watching the show on DVD.  If everyone who's chosen to take part in any of the events here (the filming, the production, the sale/distribution and the end user) is enjoying themselves/happy to get paid for their part in it then why should someone else want to turn around and stop this?

In my opinion this law is particularly ridiculous because some of the actions aren't even illegal here - so what are people going to be corrupted into doing?  A legal activity?  Well what's wrong with that!

There is also just how arbitrary some of this really is.  It is only fisting if all 5 digits in a hand are used at once, if it's just the 4 then it's fine.  I haven't seen either to tell the difference but I doubt someone using 5 digits is that much different to using 4 is it?  

I agree that there need be methods of ensuring that the products don't end up being viewed by children, however once a sale has taken place to someone over the age of 18 that responsibility should then fall to them.

Surely it's about time the law reached the twenty first century and the Government stopped dictating to adults what it is suitable for them to watch.  Surely also there are better uses for public money than to be spent prosecuting people in these circumstances?

Anyway, all this talk about fisting makes me want to go and listen to a bit of Tool...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diane Abbott - Not sure this counts as an apology?

Earlier today I posted a blog regarding Diane Abbott's 'insensitive' tweeting, she has now tweeted a general response:

Now, to me this doesn't look totally like an apology, it's basically "I didn't say anything wrong, you're just looking at it wrong".  

The original tweet again if you missed it:

She is not talking about 19th century colonialism, she is talking about current white people - there is no past tense in her tweet and implying that current attitudes/tactics/games are as old as colonialism.    

I would be very surprised if this response could make the storm brewing around this disappear!


Also, surely if you're standing behind your original message then you wouldn't delete the offending tweet?

Diane Abbott does it again...

Last year I made a post about a Tweet Diane Abbott made in bad taste around the News International saga

Then on Armistice Day her staff apparently tweeted the latest polling figures during the two minutes silence.  

Now she's had another tweet that's offended:

Comments like this are intentionally divisive, it is remarkable that anyone in public office can make such a sweeping generalisation about people based on the colour of their skin.  Imagine this was a Conservative minister who made a sweeping generalisation about a minority.  They would be off the front bench before anyone had a chance to press the Retweet button!  

I'm sure she has done a lot in the fight against racism, however it's a two way street.  There is never an excuse for racism of any kind against any group and unfortunately Ms Abbott has form on this issue.

I really don't see how she can stay in this position, however I'd be surprised if she leaves her post, I don't think she feels she'll have done anything wrong so wont resign and I don't think Ed will have the guts to fire her.

Her first attempt at an erm, apology?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

We may be "horse f*ckers" but that is not the only reason we are languishing in the polls...

Over on The New Statesman one of my favourite bloggers, Richard Morris, has set out why he believes the Lib Dems are languishing in the polls.  Basically it is because everyone has Nick Clegg/us marked down as "horse f*ckers" due to one lapse in judgement (tuition fees) whilst David Cameron is a beloved tyrant.  

Now I agree with him that this has done major damage to our party with regards reputation.  I also love Andrew Emerson's comment (available in blog form here) about not settling for the current rhetoric, I particularly love the sentence that higher education should be accessible to all not free for all (as who wants a banker who gets million pound bonus's a year to have free education - that's what that policy recommends).  

We will be attacked from all sides on this issue so in order to not be completely swamped we have to aggressively defend the choice that was made as one that improves availability, options and even the cost to students when it matters most.  It would also have been preferable following the Labour conference for our senior ministers to come out and demonstrate to the public that Labour's "cap" at £6k would only benefit the WEALTHY.  I like the phrase students don't pay tuition fees (ANYMORE) - graduates do.

Anyway, my actual reasoning for writing this blog is that whilst I agree with both Richard in a way and Andrew I don't think this is the only reason, or even the main reason we are languishing in the polls.  


From my experience, many people who voted Lib Dem last time, at least those I know, are generally apathetic about politics.  They wont even be thinking of their next vote until the campaign trail rolls out next time around.  The optimist in me thinks that if Clegg can win the debates again he'll be able to sway many of these people, the pessimist however fears that now we have become a party of government we have been open to satire.  Previously we were an irrelevance as far as comics were concerned, however now there is the negative picture of us portrayed in comedy (yes Tories and Labour both suffer too, but we used to almost benefit from this).  I'll concede that this image has largely come about because of Richard's point above.


However I feel is more important, the fact we are (correctly in my opinion) in coalition with the Conservatives.  This is viewed as "propping up a Tory government".  I know people who voted Lib Dem last time that say they wont do so for the foreseeable future because of this.  In the current economic climate things are always going to be bad, no matter what the make up of the government.  The public don't see the many good things that the Liberal Democrats are influencing, they see the many things that the Tories are being allowed to implement.  

Many minds go back to the 80's when lots of people suffered because of Tory governments, other, younger minds are just remembering all of the negative things they have heard (from their parents/the media/The Liberal Democrats) about how bad things were for the less well off under Thatcher and see parallels here.  They don't look and see that the Government is trying to minimise any harm done by measures that are necessary, they see that Tories are making cuts with our help - irrespective of the fact that Labour's would have been "worse than Thatcher".  They believe that the Tories are actively out to hurt those who are worse off, despite the fact no-one gets into politics to make people worse off, they do it to make a positive difference (or maybe get their novel turned into a film - depending where their priorities lie).  

Ultimately, we will live or die by the economy, irrespective of whether it is the Government's fault or global circumstances, but irrespective of this it's highly likely we may never get some of these voters back.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 Resolutions

I'm not normally one to make resolutions as they are hard to stick with but I figure if I write them down I'll have something to look back in December to see if I've done as I wanted.  I guess most of these aren't really resolutions, more goals...

  1. Post more than the 144 posts I made last year.  Aiming for 200 this year.
  2. Write more in general - I want to write a novel which I have the outline in my head.  I don't care if it's good, I just want to prove I can write that much.
  3. Beat my previous time in the Bath Half Marathon - and my previous donations.  (I'll post up who I'm collecting for later this month).
  4. Make full use of my gym membership (starting tomorrow as they are closed today!)
  5. Drink less - I'm not an alcoholic but at 26 I think it's time I cut back on heavy nights out.  
  6. Work harder - make sure I'm happy with where I'm at in relation to work.
  7. Try and learn French!
Nothing really inspiring I know, but they are there for reference!