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From India to Iran to Labour wit

Posted on 15 June 2009 | 10:06am

If diplomacy is war by other means, sometimes the same can be said of sport, which is why an India-Pakistan cricket match has long been on my list of ‘must see before I die’ sporting events.

The appetite was further whetted by the sight and sound of the Indian support at the Twenty20 clash with England at Lord’s. Whatever it took to get the bulk of the tickets once it became known who was playing yesterday, the Indians did it. Where we were sitting in the Mound stand, we were in a tiny minority of non-Indians, and the same went for most sections of the ground.

All the more credit is due then to England for their narrow win. I see captain Paul Collingwood said he used the sound of Indian boos greeting their arrival to crank up the pre-match motivation, but it could so easily have gone the other way. It cannot be nice playing a home game which feels like an away match.

At one point, with the noise reaching football match levels, the Indian supporter next to me pointed over to the Lord’s pavilion and asked ‘I wonder what the old MCC types think of this.’ Probably, when the Twenty20 revolution started, not a lot. But though it may not be cricket as the traditionalists prefer it, it is fantastic sport, and fantastic entertainment.

… talk of revolutions allows me to move effortlesssly from India to Iran. Regular visitors will know my respect for British reporters is not as high as it was in the days when I wanted to be one, but there is some terrific reporting of events in Iran today.

I have only seen the Times and the Guardian, but both contain some first-class on the ground accounts from Martin Fletcher and Ian Black, as well as analysis from experts in London. The sadness is that as the post-elections stiuation unfolds, the chances of seeing such reporting in the coming days diminish.

Iran only allowed foreign journalists in on ten day visas so that they could see Iranian democracy in action. Now that they are describing the reality of that, the attempts to stifle dissent, and the persuasive suggestions of electoral irregularities, visa extension seems unlikely.

It is a reminder both of how important good journalism is, but also of how much some in the prevailing media culture here take for granted as they routinely refer to Britain as a police state, a surveillance society devoid of real freedoms.

… and finally, if you want to see a witty, well-written ‘letter to the editor’, read Labour MP Kim Howells’ offering in The Times today. He probably shouldn’t have written it, as whilst intended to call for an end to division, it rather opens a new divide, as he urges the younger members of the Cabinet (‘Assisted Places Scheme’) to ‘put a sock in it.’ But it is funny, even if he takes a pop at blogging and tweeting. Off to tweet about the blog now, then call Kim. People say there are not enough characters in politics. Kim Howells is a character.

  • Wyrdtimes

    Sad that so many of those “Indians” in the crowd felt it was necessary to boo England. Despite the fact that they probably all live in England and there’s a good chance that most of them were born in England too.

    As for the plastic Scotsman in the crowd who also lives in England and was born in England – was he booing too? Or just supporting India against England?

  • Jan Hope

    The Iranian situation is so depressing. Some of the reporters who were allowed in seemed to think real change was coming, that real democracy was taking shape. It would seem not to be the case. Could not agree more that the way people talk of lack of freedom and rights in Britain is silly and ott

  • Des Currie

    I hope Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the legitimate winner of these elections. I also hope that in his majority the West will take cognizance of his majority, his country put to a democratic
    test. And I also hope that more and more nations will join the chorus against the exesses of Israel, in particular their decimation of the Palestinian peoples and land.
    There is more to right than wrong than allowing thinking to make it so.
    Des Currie

    ps. I have been trying to contact David Shayler with zero success to try and arange meeting with him. You may be able to point me in a direction, if you will be so kind.
    I have 3 weeks in England before I return to Africa, and a personal oportunity will be missed to if I don’t try.
    I have tried every site relating to David, and then some more, with no luck. With your good looks and charm I am hoping you will make more head way than I.
    I hope this imposition will afford you much blessing.
    Des Currie

  • Mike

    I must commend you and your site for allowing some of the comments you allow on here, some of which are really quite unpleasant about you personally, and about your politics. By contrast, I regularly post critical comments on the main media websites, which profess to believe in freedom of speech, yet which often never appear. They are vetted out. I have tried to post several in your defence on the Mail’s website but none have appeared. Then I wrote somethig critical of you – just to test it out – and lo and behold, there it was in minutes. They believe in freedom of speech, provided you speak what they want you to

  • Welsh wizard

    I knew Kim Howells way back when when he was involved with the miners. He was a breath of fresh air, and I wish he had gone further up the ministerial pole. I agree we need more big characters. Kim fits the bill. Just read the letter. Laughed out loud

  • Don

    Just seen that weirdo Broon making his statement about the Iraq war enquiry. How did you fix that one! You and black dog must be thrilled.

  • gary Enefer

    Unlike Iran ,India can also be very proud of it’s recent Election.720m voters and it all went so well with a clear outcome that almost everyone was satisfied with.

    Iran has beautiful people and a very good drug rehabilitation programme for it’s addicts (source BBC reporter’s programme). I pray that the millions out on the streets today ,to object to it’s Election farce ,do not come to any harm.A green revolution given the colour of their hands and faces.

    What to do with rogue states who also want the bomb?

    Gordon Brown has put his foot in it again by saying the Iraq War enquiry will be held in private – apparently because of security issues- Sir Menzies Campbell of the Liberals is quite right that it should be a public enquiry where certain issues can be discussed in private. GB also announced t is after the next Election – I thought politics was due to change for the better but this has whitewash written all over it.

  • The Gord Delusion

    Ffs will the government do one decent thing and hold an open and honest enquiry? No instead the public will have to endure more cover ups. I will be glad to see the back of the government.

  • Lee H

    Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 17:40:53 +0100 To: From: Subject: Something special is starting to happen Dear Mr XXXXX, We were all dismayed by the recent election results but because of the dismal backdrop something special is starting to happen. Since the election results came out, there has been an exceptional increase in the number of people joining the party. Hundreds are joining for the first time but many are, like you, former members. I wanted to share with you their reasons – and ask you to rejoin today. Brendan from Durham said he joined because: “You can’t ride the fence when the Tories and BNP are gaining power.” Please rejoin us in this fight – Silke from Guildford said: “I have re-joined because the Tories will ruin this country.” Please rejoin us in this fight – Kevin from London said: “As a former member about a decade ago I wish to rejoin to help fight the next General Election and beyond.” We have now seen how the Tories plan to cut our public services. David Cameron’s health spokesman Andrew Lansley stated that the Tories would make 10 per cent spending cuts in the vast majority of government departments. Gordon Brown has said: “We have a proud record of targeted investment and prioritising the interests of hard working families across the country. And while our party will stand by people through this downturn, David Cameron’s Conservatives would walk on by. And in contrast to our strong record of investment in public services, David Cameron is committed to cuts of 10 per cent.” Please rejoin us in this fight – Best wishes, Harriet Alistair Is that the best the Labour Party can come up with? Associating the Conservative Party with the BNP? Even though I don’t like your politics I respect the fact that you do it very, very well. If that is as good as they are going to get…..And I say this as a committed Conservative, get a grip of them before they implode and people like the BNP will use that vacuum. Many thanks Lee