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Big Lie on state school sport needs to be challenged for Olympic legacy to be strong

Posted on 3 August 2012 | 10:08am

I am biased. What I say on here, or when speaking in public, reflects a view that is biased towards the left, towards progressive causes, towards causes I believe in and values I hold.

Even when I was a journalist, though I strove to get my facts right, I always admitted that my journalism was a part of my politics, and that therefore a bias in story selection and presentation was present.

But I wonder what goes through Rupert Murdoch’s head when he denies outright any political or ideological bias at Fox News. Fox, in common with most of the many media outlets Murdoch controls, reflects his worldview. Rightwing, pro very free enterprise, anti unions and the left. I always thought their slogan ‘Fair and balanced’ was a really funny joke, but no, they really do believe it, or say they do because that’s what Rupert says.

We have seen in News International’s handling of the phone hacking scandal the dangers of believing your own propaganda – one rogue reporter and all that. And we saw another example of it yesterday when Murdoch tweeted his view that China’s success in the Olympics was inevitable because of the US and UK bias against competitive sport in state schools. A classic case of facts not being allowed to get in the way of a Big Lie that is peddled relentlessly through the papers of the right in the UK.

First, let us put China’s lead in the medals table in some perspective. If we were to make the success judgement one of medals per head of population, Slovenia are Olympic champions so far, and China languishing well down the table. Also, where they have had success it is in large part down to the heavy State intervention that in most other cases Murdoch rejects.

But his views about the UK really do reveal a bias and an ignorance that have to be challenged. There may have been some schools, at some time, that decided competitive sport was not a priority. They were, if ever they really existed, a minority. But when Murdoch’s and other right wing papers were running their campaigns against so-called loony left councils, this myth was repeated so often that for some it became a fact.

The fact that there is a greater proportion of privately educated athletes in Team GB than across the population has everything to do with issues of wealth and investment, and nothing to do with this alleged bias against competitive sport.

I remember when one of my sons was running at a fairly serious level, and he was competing in a national schools event held at Stowe College. Looking at the facilities there, compared with most State schools, the wonder is how schools like that don’t produce far more medal winners than they do. The top private schools have money – helped by charitable status (ludicrous) – that enables them to develop facilities state schools can only dream of.

What worries me about the Murdoch line of argument – and David Cameron and Michael Gove have both made the same point rather more subtly – is that it is used to perpetuate the gap between private and state schools, rather than close it.

If state schools had the kind of facilities enjoyed by the Etons, Harrows, Millfields and Stowes of this world, we would have an even better record in sport than the one we already do, and which we should be very proud of, not least the achievements of state school success stories as varied as Bradley Wiggins and Jess Ennis, Seb Coe and Steve Redgrave. I am not saying they are successes BECAUSE they went to state schools, just very good examples to disprove the myth peddled by the right.

Let us also remember that one of the reasons we are dominant in cycling is because of the legacy of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, in the form of the velodrome and the operations of British Cycling, a ruthless pursuit for the best talent, and the shaping of it into world-beaters. Like the Chinese are doing. Only per head of population, we do it better. Per pound of investment, state schools punch above their weight.

One of Murdoch’s favourite politicians is Michael Gove, one of whose earliest decisions as Education Secretary was to make huge cuts to school sport investment. Let us hope the Olympics, and the inevitable focus on legacy to follow, leads to a review and reversal of that decision, which is already having a detrimental impact on facilities in the state schools most of his readers and viewers, as opposed to his editors, actually use.

  • Anonymous

    Murdoch is not grounded like us, he is just an internationalist capitalist – he couldn’t care a toss if kiddies are starving in the backend of Oz, UK or the US – he won’t lose any sleep over it, unlike us, who are actually trying hard to be good citizens of our bordered country.

    Murdoch couldn’t give two shits about us at all. He is the sort of person that thinks people like me are cretins in his judgement, while I think he is a sad fuck that lives nowhere except in a balance book. He is a nasty James Bond villain as far as I can see, and needs some pope-like excommunicating from us. He is a disease to this country.

    • Ehtch

      Just had a bizarre conversation on youtube that something is going to happen to me on Monday. He/she was quite sensible about it. He also posted a comment to me on one of the cycling vids I posted.

      Click the vid link to see how the conversation went, strange it was, he only joined youtube in this name on 21st July, so it is quite interesting what he says – maybe he is going to offer me a job, or something. Gawd knows! The vid is a Truman Capote clip,

      Remember, click on the link for the comments – strangest yet after all these years bothering youtube. Strange it should happen half way through our Olympics, you could say.

  • Islajdowds

    Worth noting that it’s not all about facilities either; it’s also about time investment, the culture around sport asvan integral part of sport as part of the school’s life and ethos, access to support from top coaches and opportunities, links to sponsorship etc. I saw a massive difference in these things when teaching in a private school, the fundamental attitude is quite different.

  • ambrosian

    Today the Sun, obeying its master’s voice, has transformed Rupert’s big lie into a whopper of Olympian proportions by saying that the Labour Government “outlawed” competitive sport in schools.

    It would be interesting to know which Act or Statutory Instrument outlawed competitive sport and why every State school in the land decided to ignore it.

  • Annysqu

    That doyen of “free” schools toby Young even said on LBC today that shools had been selling off their playing fields (????) and that bcause of the unions no after school sport was possible (really?) makes my blood boil all these ridiculous half truths 

  • Thomas Crossley

    Another key point should surely be that one would expect team GB to be statistically more likely to win in sports that are largely restricted to the well-off or affluent. I mean, I haven’t checked, but is Ethiopia as strong in the dressage events as it is in long distance running? Are the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia particularly well blessed with Olympic sized pools or velodromes?

    My point is that when playing sports that are restricted to that portion of the global population that one would describe as ‘well-off’ you have a better chance of winning once you pass the affluence threshold to that sport.  

  • Lesley Burrows

    This is not just relevant to sport but in all areas of education. I can’t get my head round the vast differences across the varied school settings. I fear it is about to become even worse as schools are managing their own budgets and priorities, where the quality of education depends on how school leadership teams review and manage their finances, priorities. Some will be brilliant and others mismanaged – can we really afford such a variation? I agree that localism is empowering but I fear that the “arms length” approach may result in some schools feeling abandoned to manage on smaller budgets, when they are not capable, vital elements will be lost.

  • Sasa

    I don’t know why the author –  revealing a bias and an ignorance of others – still manages to mix Slovenia and Slovakia.

    Nevertheless, in order to support the argument of the author, let me explain that all of the Slovenian medal winners at Olympics 2012 went through public educational system and are employed in state institutions at the moment.

  • Mabozza Ritchie

    How about a guest column from someone explaining how the charitable status for private schools work, how much it costs the public purse and some context around what these sums could fund elsewhere? Surely this is the type of issue (rich being funded by everyone else) that needs to be re-evaluated given the current financial predicament. How can the country afford it?

  • Olli Issakainen

    Big Truth.
    Truth is the only way to prevent a total ECONOMIC COLLAPSE and WW3.
    Nick Cohen says that freedom of expression is a myth. Davos men and the Fortune 500 super-rich have a new network of postmodern censorship.
    We have more information than ever, but TRUTH is harder to find and easy to suppress.
    This is why journalism these days must stand for the truth.
    Truth hurts – but it is the only thing I can offer.
    George Monbiot writes in the Guardian that the only people the government listens are the corporate class and the super-rich.
    Neoliberals want to maximise market freedom and minimise the role of state.
    But state and market have now united around the demands of giant corporations.
    Through campaign finance, networking and lobbying big business recruits the state to champion its interests.
    Nick Cohen also asks how long before people of Europe wake up to the fact that they no longer live in democracy?
    Globalisation, bond markets and EU treaties rule.
    Power has passed beyond national control.
    Elections are shams, voting counts for nothing.
    Austerity demanded by banks has failed. Yet free market fundamentalism is supposed to be the only answer.
    John Harris says that global corporations continue to usurp democracy.
    HSBC has laundered money.
    The grip of corporate power over politics is snowballing.
    According to Simon Jenkins the crisis will not be solved until the link between banking and politicians is severed.
    As long as banking retains its strangehold on policy, the disaster will continue.
    QE of £325bn has disappeared without a trace to bank vaults.
    £1.2tn has been given to bankers since the financial crisis started in Britain!
    Bankers lobby successfully on bailouts, bonuses, Tobin tax and QE.
    Mr Jenkins tells that the bankers are happy to play Nero as Europe burns.
    This so-called crisis is being run by and for the banks.
    Politicians do not dare to stimulate demand, boost consumption or expand employment. They take advice from banks.
    Jenkins states that European leaders are in thrall to high finance.
    According to Ha-Joon Chang austerity has never worked. He also adds that a tiny minority controls income, wealth and POLITICAL POWER and INFLUENCE through control of media, thinktanks and academia.
    Unless we understand that bankers are in charge, nothing will prevent an economic collapse and a new big war about oil starting in Iran.
    But with 96% of the world media in the hands of globalists, the chances of the truth emerging are slim.

    Ps. Mr Murdoch recently bought a Finnish TV channel Suomi TV and replaced it with the Fox brand.

  • Anonymous

    would you like to write it?

  • Stu

    and this is the medal table in 1996…

  • Emily Hayes

    There was never a move away from competition in schools. There was a conscious effort to engage more young people, in fun, positive and friendly sporting activity. The SSCo programme and the youth sport trust opened the door for millions of young people to become engaged in more sport, more often. Mr murdoch seems to have overlooked that since coming to power the coalition have taken away over half of the investment in school sport, stopped the BSF programme that might have seen sćhools provide world class facilities for their young people and in the process undermined the premise of our olympic bid to inspire a generation by building on a world class system for school sport that has helped to generate the performers that currently have us 4th in the medal table.

  • Owen Jones was making the same point on PM – radio 4 against a Tory backbencher who was peddling the same myth.

    Of course it’s access to facilities. Look at football, state schools manage to produce a huge number of elite world class athletes in a discipline that requires very little in the way of equipment (Jumpers for goalposts…)

    I’m sure I saw a stat that South Yorkshire, once a loony- left council heartland, prime candidate for replacing sports days with expressive dance, produced the most professional footballers. That hardly back up Murdoch’s point of view.

    • redrugbyfan

      As someone who lives in South Yorkshire, that supposed “once a loony left council heartland, prime candidate for replacing sports days with expressive dance …….” I can assure you that none of the, at that time, four Labour controlled councils did anything remotely similar to that. 

      What they did do was pour far more money into the education authorities than the government set as the base line in order to give ALL kids in state schools a fighting chance to be the best they could.

      Sheffield built world class sports facilities as well as the English Institute of Sport which has facilities second to none and indeed which Kelly Holmes admitted that without them she wouldn’t have won double gold in Athens.

      So you’re right, it does present a totally contradictory point of view to the rubbish which Murdoch presents as fact.

      Why do people believe the bilge that appears in his rags!

  • Mabozza Ritchie

    Sorry, I don’t know enough about it, otherwise I most certainly would.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s remember that apart from fox, all the other broadcasters in the UK and the US range from soft centre left, to very left. All are statist, socialist, big government supporters (for obvious reasons as they rely on big socialist government to keep them afloat.)

    So even if there were a centrist TV station, it would seem right wing in comparison to the others. I think Fox is right wing, and Murdoch is certainly a big liar, but Fox is not as right wing as people say, for example it is closer to the centre than many of the leftist stations, including the BBC.

  • Anonymous

    Most of my friends and colleagues think I talk nonsense most of the time, an opinion I am sure shared by most who have read my comments here!

    However I have been accused of making sense when it comes to this issue in sport.

    First of all, the most competitive sport in the world is football, and private school or middle class players are almost unheard of – they simply do not usually have the same numbers of desperate people determined to make it at all costs. Its the same for boxers where the best fighters were known as “hungry fighters”.

    However – it is true that in other sports, private schools do disproportionately well. Funding is of course part of this, and the facilities, coaching, opportunities they get compared to the less well off.

    I think the biggest reason however, is structure. Look at Australia, a country that really punches above its weight in sport, in many different sports. The main difference between the sports played by well off people here compared to the less well off, and between australia and here, is that in those systems the kids get a chance to play in a local club, but also there is a clear structure and progression available. You go to row for your local club, you progress up through the ranks and competitions, there are clear steps you follow to become a champion. In Australia it is the same with Rugby and Aussie rules, you get in the local junior team, who are connected to the senior team, who are connected to regional teams who are connected to professional teams. The pathway, the steps are all there, that bit is simple, for those with the talent and dedication to follow. Whereas here we let many good athletes slip through the net.

    Its the same in Ireland with Gaelic football, and in Northern Ireland with boxing – in boxing there is a clear structure and path you can take from any local club, to world champion.

    So we need to expand access to sports, and ensure a clear path to progression. How much better would the athletics, cricket and rugby teams be if we did this? How many more young people would learn discipline, improve their health and self confidence etc. It would be well worth doing.

    I think I could agree with Mr Campbell on this, at the right time as I have come round from a olympic sceptic to cheerleader.

  • Janiete

    Barefaced lies like this and so many others demonstrate the importance of Lord Justice Leveson’s findings. John Major, in his evidence to the Inquiry put the point clearly when he asked just how are the public to know the truth? 

    Anyone who has relied on media reporting of Leveson won’t even be aware that fusion of fact and comment is viewed as a central criticism of our media and has been discussed at length. Despite the Editors’ Code clearly requiring separation of factual news and comment, our media outlets ignore it and most in the profession dismiss the requirement as unachievable.

    If qualified journalists and editors haven’t the wit or the will to apply the PCC requirement themselves, then we need to tell them how to do it. Straightforward labelling would in some cases be adequate to identify pieces as comment. Given the widespread use of mixed fact and comment reporting, clearly identifiable typefaces could be used to identify proven facts. Heavy fines could be applied to journalists and or newspapers where facts are claimed incorrectly, and we could have a league table of news outlets measuring reliance on fact rather than comment. 

    Regular measurement of performance in terms of factual and accurate reporting might just be the start of the new culture we so desperately need.  

  • Janiete

    That is so revealing. 

    GB in 36th position, with only 1 gold and 15 medals in total. That was a true reflection of the state of national sport after 17 years of Tory government. 

    Come on BBC, put that on the news and correct the record!

  • Gilliebc

    I think AC makes some very fair and correct points in this blog post. 
    But, because we live in an elite ruled country, an oligarchy some say, which incidentally reaches far beyond just this country. Then barring a revolution things will never change.  I’m sure many will be aware that Plato among others had some good and interesting stuff to say/write on this particular subject.     
    The wealthy powerful elite, the establishment, call them what you will, rule the roost.  Always have done and probably always will do.  

    Should a call for revolution ever begin, we would need to take a good look at just who is funding and instigating it, because it probably would not be as it might appear. 

  • Janiete

    I think this Guardian article is rather closer to the mark: 

  • There is nothing leftist about the BBC. The BBC takes very good care to ensure that it presents arguments from both sides.

    The Conservatives are so used to having papers that refect their views that they mis-interpret genuinely central news-reporting as being “of the left”.

    Personally I think the BBC is being bullied by the current government and the hugely powerful super-elite who support the current government into being more and more right wing.

    The BBC must resist this and remain as objective in its news reporting as it can be.

  • Gilliebc

    The BBC ‘remain .. objective’ in their news reporting!   You must be joking. 

    • Ehtch

      The trouble with the BBC, as I see it, as it has been since the early days of radio from the 1920’s, is that it is too concerntrated in the capital, and the home counties.

      It has tried to change that with the recent move of some of their departments to Salford Quay in Manchester, as well as Doctor Who to Cardiff (!), but more needs to be done to spread its national output to bases in the regions.

      But there has been resistance to it, since after all it is a conservative, with a small c, organisation. Being concerntrated in one place in attitudes and views is inefficient for the national interest, which is the reason it exists in the first place, isn’t it?.

      • Libdem

        What a great argument for dispersing centralised government Ehtch…all those departments should be displaced to the provinces…maybe we could even have an English parliament….

  • Anonymous

    Look at the BBCs views on Europe, which thanks to the most abominable decision of New Labour, is now a left vs right issue (Old Labour used to be the eurosceptics.)

    Look at when they get a guest on from the right wing of the conservative party, he is introduced as “right wing”, you never hear them call cameron or ken clarke left wing or to the left of the tory party even though they are, and you never hear them call any labour people left wing. This is because to the bbc, there is normal and there is right wing.

    Also listen to when they describe guests on newsnight as “right wing eurosceptic”. You will never hear them describe the others as “left wing europhile” or even “euro enthusiast” because to the bbc europhilia is default, euroscepticism is weird, even though every poll says that the electorate are euro sceptic.

  • Anonymous

    Why not make it a project for all the blog participants to help with, I’m sure we are united in disagreement with posh schools being called charities, perhaps we could unite to dig up the facts.

    • Ehtch

      Yes reaguns, there are some strange organisations using charitable status. It is almost like the attitude to tax avoidance – they are allowed to get away with it. Anything with charitable status should be for the good of all, for everyone right across the social spectrum.

      As Alastair has pointed out, for these schools having extremely impressive sports facilities, and being of charitable status, just does not make sense. Should be the other way around, I would have thought.

    • Dave Simons

      I think I hear the Owl of the Remove calling: “Yarrooo – yarrooo!”
      “I say you fellows, when are you going to stop knocking Greyfriars and other posh schools? Surely you’re just being envious? My schoolmate, the Nabob of Banipur, sums up you bounders perfectly: “It is the cracked pitcher that goes oftenest to the well”. There! I’ve said it! (“Ha ha ha!”). Hmmm? Blessed if I can see anything to cackle at (“Ha ha ha!”). Charity’s fine – subscribe to mine! Just let me tuck into my tuck – you go and eat coke. BEASTS!

    • Mabozza Ritchie

      The Big Society in action, lol. Well, I’m up for it, if I can get some help with compiling the figures.

  • Michele

    After reading about the bending of financial rules in the pension funds of some private school I posted a few weeks ago about another possible scam.

    Does the autonomy that such schools’ accountants enjoy extend to any parents being able to make pre-tax ‘charity donations’ and have any offset against fees?

  • Michele

     Pedantic point, do you mean Either or do you mean nor?

  • Nick

    So the politics of team GB and its success has begun.Success  in sport is nothing to do with how competitive at sport state schools are , Its about how deep your’s or your parents pockets are .How many parents can afford to purchase Carbon Fibre bikes  or boats/oars ?.How many parents can afford horses and all that goes with them ?How many parents can afford to ferry their kids all over the country competing ?.Students can no longer afford the time between studies to pursue their sporting interest.They have to find some sort of work to afford their ever increasing fees.The British are not fools they can see that Murdoch is trying to influence them by politicising the success of team GB .His image and that of  that toilet paper called the Sun has sunk so low that they cannot be taken seriously anymore .

  • Anonymous

    Hello Michele, been away, hols? Good to here from you again, I missed you luv.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah I mean, I’m sure that while there are things that clearly are charities such as Cancer research, Save the Children and so on, and things that defininitely aren’t such as Barclays bonuses, no doubt there are marginal cases somewhere in the middle that people can argue whether are charitable or not.

    (For example my Gran used to think it was sickening that there were charities for animals while human beings were starving, poor and sick.)

    But public schools??!! Its unbelieveable! Its one of those issues so blatant, as opposed to most other issues where both parties policies are identical, that I think I could vote for a single issue party on this.

    • Ehtch

      oh christ, don’y get me started on the RSPCA, a right bunch of fascist cees, can’t stand them.

      the bloke from that wildlife wotsit from Leatherhead just barely puts up with them, RSPCA are hard work, the way they recriut people to them. met a couple of them, and they are numnnut hard work, looking to take money of you.

      The fella i am talking about from Leatherhead, by the way, clip here,

      Yeh, badgers, they try and play footie,

  • Ehtch

    BB footie are treading on thin ice here, Iknow what they are uo to, thet have beas on it, watch, thery will concede a goal before half time to be behind and a bet win, while will come out stoeming at some point in the second half.

    Watch yourselves lads, you are being watched, with the pants way you are playing like at the moment.

    Sorry Alastair, thought I should point this obvious fact, to some of us, to them.

  • Ehtch

    oh dear, two days of GB footies, gone down in history, into the plug ‘ole.


  • Ehtch

    Jess Ennis is tiny – how the hell is she a world winning heptathlete?

    Freak of nature, got to be. She should be in the SAS, not farting around an athletics track. : )

  • Ehtch

    A song for Jess Ennis? Funny she has a surname like that, our big family friends from my village is Ennis, them and us and others are the local mafia/taffia, AHEM!, Ennis Caravans, google them Jess, and to make it even more extraordianry, my great gran was from the steel city Sheffield area, but about twenty miles outside, towards the Notts border, towards Worksop, Harthill, coal mining old country.

    Anyway, I know Jess will like this, as I think she is, away from “things”, a right naughty girl,

    NOOO, not a witch, someone that likes to climb, ahem!. mountains.

    Oh for fuck sake, study Freud, can’t be putting up with steralised people that seemed to have been down the vets to get their wotsits done.

  • reaguns

    Can’t be many olympics sceptics left now can there?

    I think its time we admit defeat and move on!

  • Niallsmith1970

    As a young English teacher, just over ten years ago, I taught at a challenging boys’ comprehensive in Croydon. The school had very poor facilities and also, due to its size, needed a range of staff to pitch in and take teams. I was pleased to take a Year 8 cricket team: I can quite honestly say that it transformed my teaching style through the relationships I built up with the lads. 

    My point, however, is to do with a particular incident which springs to mind whenever sport in schools is discussed… The league in which our school played also included local independent schools. Great. We played our fixture “away” at a local independent and, after arriving at the school, I led the boys to the multi-storey pavillion, which was very well equipped. As the lads were getting changed, I waited outside and chatted to the independent school’s teacher. I then heard a commotion from the changing rooms. Fearing that there had been some incident which would tarnish our school’s name, I rushed downstairs to find my team in a state of high excitement… “Look, Sir!” one said, “showers!”. Then another lad ran out and said “with hot water!” They were genuinely amazed.

    We went on to lose the match. I should point out that he opposition were great lads:there was no animosity whatsoever. But the gulf in facilities stays with me to this day…

  • Nick

    Is Jeremy Hunt  thick or just does not give a toss ?
    After seeing him cosy up to Murdoch at the Olympics I think it may well be the latter with a touch of the first !.PB1 must have cried into his (doesn’t know the price of ) pinta when he saw those images being broadcast all over the the place ! .Wonder if it was a set up by Buffoon B to increase the pressure on PB1 ??

  • Anonymous

    The “freedom of the press” that is such a favourite cause for the media is, in reality, the freedom of very rich people to dominate the dissemination of information to us proles.

    It’s interesting, for example, that the President of Ecuador, who seems to me to be doing a reasonable job in difficult circumstances, is frequently attacked, even by people who should know better, for repressing the press.

    Some “useful idiots” seem not to realise that they’re helping the right wingers’ cause.  They want to replace Rafael Correa with someone who will do less to help the ordinary Ecuadorians and more to help foreign investors get their hands on the country’s natural resources.

    It’s a difficult balance; we’re lucky to have the BBC but even it’s far too much influenced by the right dominated press.

  • Dave Simons

    Thank you ‘redrugbyfan’ – correct on all points. Tories and LibDems over the last two decades have consistently slagged off Sheffield’s Labour Council for the 1991 World Student Games which resulted in the building of world class sports and entertainment facilities in an area turned into a rust belt by central government policies in the 1980s. I wouldn’t be surprised if, post-Olympics, LibDems start trying to claim credit for Sheffield’s contribution to Olympic victories. Tories might even try the same opportunism but they haven’t had much of a presence in Sheffield or South Yorkshire generally since 1997. But if people on this blog believe the bilge that Murdoch and LIbDem/Tory politicians present as fact, what hope is there for a sizeable proportion of the rest of the electorate?

  • Dave Simons

    The youtube clip reminds me of a combination of Grace Slick and the Velvet Underground – except in those days people used to play real drums as opposed to virtual ones that all sound like the percussive equivalent of tinned carrots. I’ve a confession. I was accosted by a drunken bloke last night in Sheffield and he showed me an old photo of his daughter with two other young girls and said “The one in the middle is Jessica Ennis”. I said, “Who’s Jessica Ennis?”.
    Nevertheless I wish every success to the Olympics and think it’s wonderful the way it empties streets and countryside, and I think Sheffield’s ruling Labour group did well to invest in sports facilities, but I really am not interested in sport any more than I’m interested in expressive dancing.
    By the way, do you know that Irish polka, ‘The Siege of Ennis’?

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm… Libdem returns after a hiatus… so does Michele… spooky 🙂

  • Michele

     Football is hardly played in private schools, you know that fine well.  It’s actually looked down upon.

    Rugby is the kicky-ball thing in public schools and …. guess the rest.

  • Michele

    I’ve been scooting around London a lot in the past couple of days and today was up in the Tower area, along the river bank at high tide, along between Wapping and London Bridge.

    It was all so lovely and I’m sorry to be so pleased about how all the tourists are loving the place when I know I’ll be deemed gloating due to so much re the Olympics being located in the capital. 

    Everything looks so sparkly after all the monsoon-weight rains have  washed away whatever dust there was after the usual amount of traffic fumes all summer.  Tower Bridge went up for a tall ship (actually just a little boat with a tall mast), tourists were loving London, loving the sunshine, loving our comparative security, a uniformed soldier on the tube talked briefly about his leave being cancelled but didn’t have to say too much as he knew how we already empathised.  A pub with live TV was rocking (she says demurely).

    Massive thanks to all those that worked for and believed in and got London 2012 for us.

  • Gilliebc

    Purely out of idle curiosity Ehtch,  I’ve just checked that out on YT.  Several comments have been removed, but there’s one there where the writer is accusing someone of being a neo-nazi from Carmarthen and mentioning Monday in a threatening way.  Is that the one you mean?  It’s a bit weird imo.  Probably best ignored.  I wonder why so many of the other comments have been removed.  YT are usually very tolerant, judging by some of the stuff I’ve seen on that site.  It’s very curious.

  • Anonymous

    That is where the surname comes from, there is a town or something in the middle of Ireland called Ennis. Old man Ennis local to me came over earlier last century from Ireland, and opened a garage, and got into caravans by leasing them to companies for workers that came to the area that were sinking deep mine coalshafts in the area, and then he moved into leisure caravans, static and also the ones that Jezza Clarkson can’t stand, towed ones, which is nice!

    I will have a look for that irish polka song and dance, if it is on youtubby Dave… got to be, the irish post any old horse on there. : )

  • Anonymous

    I hadn’t actually realised how obsolete my views on Australian sport are, now that they have won only 1 gold! Well I think 2012 is an anomaly, they are still pretty good at Rugby, Cricket and… er… Aussie Rules. And perhaps they’ll win a medal or two more before the end.

    Regarding private schools and football, well… I think most people can get access to football clubs, though not always a structured football system, where the best lads get scouted, and a chance to move on etc, but I think private and public school lads get the same chances, ie if they wanted to they could join a local club. School plays little formal part, I went to a soccer playing grammar school, but I didn’t learn much about football in PE at school… I guess playing for the team did help a bit in fairness, but main education was playing for local clubs, playing in streets, and playing in breaktimes at school. I went to school with a few lads who got trials, a few who turned semi pro and one pro, so the opportunities were there, in fact I don’t know how my Brazilian abilities were ever passed over…

  • Anonymous

    Feel free – what is your local area Libdem, by the way? Kernow? Geordieland? Brummieland? Lerpwl? Yorkieville then?

    or The Republic of Home Countania?…..

  • Anonymous

    Looks they went on hols together, doesn’t it? : )

    Hope we see the holiday snaps, well, I’d be interested, reaguns, don’t know about you.

  • Anonymous

    I see Tony Blair actually getting a bit of credit today, been looking at Tim Montgomerie’s twitter page and apparently they are paying due tribute on conservative home.

    I seem to remember Alastair gets on ok with Tim Montgomerie and with Iain Martin.

  • Anonymous

    I have just read the best policy idea I have heard in years!

    John Redwood’s idea is that every time we sub contract something to the EU, every time we let the EU control something such as immigration policy, food standards or anything else, however many people in the EU are working on that particular item, we should sack the same amount of people here, or sack the people in the department who have relinquished control.

    This would obviously change the likes of the foreign office from EU sycophants to eurosceptics overnight. Bravo!

  • Anonymous

    Remember the Alastair Campbell vs Armando Ianucci spat?

    Well I’d just like to point out once again that Veep is rubbish.

    Newsroom on the other hand, is brilliant.

  • Sigil

    No, you’re wrong.  It is Slovenia – see

    If anyone is revealing bias and ignorance, that would have to be you, since you are so quick to judge AC based on your total ignorance of the facts.

  • Libdem

    go and wash out your mouth!

  • Libdem

    The Republic of Liverpool Ehtch, the best city in the UK in spite of the Tories….

    • Ehtch

      Lerpwl then, as true scousers still call it, phonetically, from our welsh times there, many many years ago!

  • Richard

    Your memory fails you yet again, Al.

    The PC, Duffle Coated, everyone gets a cigar brigade preached a toxic load of hogwash for twenty plus years, where competition at school was bad and to be frowned upon. Playing fields were not necessary. Remember?

    You, Burnham etc banging on as though this never happened is laughable.

    Those of us who said that life was competitive, get over it, were pooh poohed, and ridiculed. Competition at school is a start for life’s travails.

    Now you are safely on the bandwagon of Olympic success, it is all forgotten. Competition is good!

    PS Your beatification of Blair for his role in getting the games 7 years ago is very amusing. He and Lord Smug now promoted to Greatest Living Englishmen!

    PPS Please tell us how the wonderful results being achieved would  be affected if Blair’s original budget of £2.3 billion had been adhered to, and £80 million not been lavished on the opening and closing ceremonies?

  • Libdem

    Verhofstadt the megalomaniac Belgian has been saying that for years reaguns it’s just that we don’t want to hear. He really wants to do away with localised (country) control of everything and manage it all from Brussels via the Parliament.

  • Anonymous

    So since this posting others have followed suit and piped up about the need for a strategy to deliver an Olympic legacy.

    Which is great.  But given that the government demonstrates no interest in the public good, I am not sure why they would get their act together on sport particularly – it would fly in the face of the dismemberment ideal that characterises their every act.  And if they can throw the NHS to the hyenas, why would they care about public opinion on sport?  

  • Anonymous

    Heh heh, I’m not brave enough to comment further!

  • redrugbyfan

    Dave – I couldn’t agree more and it’s good to see that you too have a good and clear understanding of the background of those times.

    I should like to point out though, and I really hate having to admit this, that during the World Student Games, the Tory councillors in Sheffield were very supportive and involved themselves throughout the period of the event.

    The Lib Dems having opposed them vociferously prior to them and missing no opportunity to condemn those who supported them, then tried to muscle in at all the events.  Let’s not forget either that they were screaming, even when building work had started, for everything to be brought to a halt which would have left a large number of half built facilities throughout the city!!

    Since that time they’ve attended high profile events at every opportunity saying how wonderful they are. 

    The rank hypocrisy of the Lib Dems in Sheffield beggars belief!

  • Gilliebc

    Libdem, according to your Disqus activity record, this post of yours, to which I’m replying, is the first one you’ve written for 5 months!   

    Well, I didn’t think you’d been missing from this site for 5 months.  So that’s a bit odd.    Just to clarify I’m certainly not making any accusations of any sort.  I’m simply a little curious. 

    Maybe it’s possible to remove posts from one’s Disqus record?  

  • Anonymous

    The comments removed are mine – when someone tries to kick something off on youtube, I find it is better to remove the comments and move on, otherwise there is a chance they start stalking you. It usually puts them off.

    The gist of my comments was Groucho was quite annoying how he was interupting Capote, and butting in all the time. Notice what Capote does to his fingers about half way through, as mentioned by another commentor there. But Groucho did actually introduce that show when Dick wotsisname was on holiday, so that is why Groucho was being overpowering, I suppose.

    Never was a fan of the Marx bros, I’m more of a Laurel and Hardy type.

  • Anonymous

    Suppose I was a bit strong there about the RSPCA. It is just had encounters with them when I have helped when pets are left after their owners have died, and they wanted to know MY name and address and everything, asking if I was related, and then asking if am I sure, and then having the cheek to say “well, could you make a donation anyway?”. I did wonder why I bothered helping ownerless animals when asked.

    Fume over!

  • Anonymous

    …by the way Dave, I am well into tinned carrots, well well into it, of all sorts – well banging music and shiaite, ya! : )

  • Anonymous

    Finland has been a huge surprise to me – they have nowt medals, bugger all! They usually get some from the shootahs and athletics, but nothing so far, they are not on the medal table.
    And I have heard there is a bit of a big fuss going on at the moment in Oz, with having just one gold, especially since they have underperformed in the homeland of us poms! Thought they would have wanted to really stick it up us.

  • Anonymous

    I always get my ex-soviet -stans mixed up, as no doubt telly news interviewers and politicians do also.

    Slovenia is an incredible beautiful country, I have heard. Would love to visit there one day. But I’ve heard it is unadvisable to take a country walk without a rifle in some parts, since some wooded areas are full of bears and wolves, as it was in the UK about two thousand years ago. but of course it would have been going for a walk without a bow and arrow then, that was unadvisable. And oh yes, not forget boars – they are the worst, especially when piglets are about.

  • Anonymous

    …BIG HUGE WHOOPS! Thinking back Sasa, if I meant Slovakia.

    I am sure I said the other. Slovakia I meant about my last post, but Slovenia is on my list to visit too. I do know the difference, old east Czechoslovakia and yourself from old Yugoslavia, but it is hard to keep up and be sharp at times, memorywise.

    My apologies. Will have to visit Slovenia sometime, which also too, no doubt, has excellent natural wildlife.

  • Michele

     I’m not sure which of us returned first but LD had been absent for a while before I went away so I think it’s a simple (tee hee) coincidence.

  • Anonymous

    Back to politics, Newsnight at the moment – glad to hear Clegg has thrown his toys out of the coalition cot, and he indicates he will now not support boundary changes, to reduce MP numbers, which many are saying is electoral gerrymandering by stealth by the nasty torys.

    But still, could be another case of arranged Cameron-Clegg siamesed twins hot air and diversionary tactics by them, to keep the paper rags and Newsnight airtime filled.

    Who knows?

  • Anonymous

    Since we are talking about the brilliant beautiful name of the music I have liked for all my modern life, by my new friend Dave, that knowns drunk Jess Ennis relations or friends, by chance, a song just for Dave, tinned carrots plus, son, be prepared to pull your hair out.

    Love from Ehtch,

    OK! They are from Melbourne, OZ. I posted it because I feel sorry sorry for them, lacking golds, Dave.

    But all said, cracking tin carrots, Dave, ey?

    : ) Know the girl Amii, used to talk to her years ago, she was well into Heaven 17, and there we met, when I posted on there, about eight years ago.

    Not bullshiting, bullshit part number 69….

    It is up to you to guess.

    Great ozzie track thought, tin of carrots full.

  • Anonymous

    See if Alastair will post this as well Dave, it is tinned carrots plus from Melbourne Oz, posted it here somewhere, months ago, brilliant Oz stuff it is, some people may not realise it,

    Am I beginning to transform you Dave, to a Mars Rover World? : )))

  • Anonymous

    There is an all-too-easy joke to be made about that comment… 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Yeah sure it is 🙂

    Gillie, if you are reading, have I got a conspiracy theory for you!

  • Anonymous

    I know, did you ever hear about that Finnish sniper who shot 500 russians or something during WW2?

  • Anonymous

    Suppose I should say that is really bugging me, even though her parents come from Llanelli, West Wales, is that beeb cow Sian Williams that has suddenly appeared on Beeb breaky telly, when she refused to move to the north-west.

    She is a sit – think of the armed services that go from pillar to post, and then this spoilt cow Sian turns up again in the middle of the Olympics spouting her crap shallow chit-chat shit.

    Sorry Sian, but you are crap minded. love, or give up your job completerly, and I couldn’t give twoo shits waht your husband does just a hundred miles from Salford.

    She is a twat, a selfish selfish look at me and my beeb pension and wage Llanelli derived twat, and I am allowed, I think, to say that.

    Bugger off Sian. kiddies in private schools and all that bollocks, private posh nannies up to her armpits.

  • Libdem

    Gilliebc or should I call you Miss Marple? Simple answer is I haven’t been ‘missing’ for 5 months and I don’t always use disqus.

  • Dave Simons

    I don’t want to sound like Ecclesiastes but there is a time and place for competition and a time and place for cooperation. ‘Those of us who said that life was competitive’ were and are telling half the truth and making it sound as if it was and is the whole truth. It usually suits the bitter and twisted like yourself to put all the emphasis on competition and totally ignore all the cooperative teamwork that goes into making even your sad life more tolerable. Cooperation is as natural as competition – nature is not just red in tooth and claw. How many flocks, shoals, colonies and herds do you have to see before you realise there really is such a thing as society and it’s not just families (little societies in themselves) and individuals. Incidentally I seem to remember that a lot of playing fields were closed by the Tories, the supreme party of competition.

  • Dave Simons

    If by Tory councillors you mean David Heslop I’m happy to concede you’re right. I’ve often wondered why he was in the Tory party! Family connections and history perhaps? But yes he was prepared to sink party differences and work with the Labour Council in the interests of Sheffield. He even did the Pennine Way with Labour councillor Peter Price!  A very nice and genial character, too nice for the Tories.

  • Dave Simons

     Youtube seems to have the jig called ‘The Siege of Ennis’ but not the polka, though I have managed to bring up an interesting group of young Chinese or other oriental people playing a three-part version of the polka. ‘Siege of Ennis’ is also a polka set, usually including ‘The Bog Down In The Valley-O’. I may even have been to Ennis – went to Clare once, visited the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Thoor Ballylee and Coole Park.

  • Michele

     Ugh, so bitter.
    Why would TB, KL et al have campaigned for and celebrated winning the Olympics if they don’t believe in competition?
    Why would AC be such an avid kicky-ball thing fan?

    I don’t think school playing fields started being selling off till the mid-80s, remind us who was t’leader please.

    Try another prescription (in thinking terms).

  • Michele

     There’s no accuracy at all in the caches attached to avatars.
    I can look at my own and NOT see the very post I am doing so from, at other times it doesn’t open at all, at yet others it opens with a different ID than the one I’m clicking from – sometimes it shows as part of my email address.
    There must be some conspiracy to it all :-s or a very simple explanation such as capacity, IPA from which posts made, blah blah blah.

    Board Monitor

  • Michele

     Further to my earlier one in this miseryguts’s cache (where, btw, I forgot to mention AC’s post somewhere about one of his sons having been a serious competition runner) :

    This :
    includes :
    “Figures released by the Department for Education show that the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, approved 21 out of 22 requests to sell playing fields, it was reported last night. Approval was given despite the Coalition Agreement declaring that the Government would “seek to protect school playing fields”.

    Theere’s some background IRL isn’t there Rich?

  • Anonymous

    As far as I understand it, if anything the gerrymandering is the other way round, someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    Well perhaps its not gerrymandering per se as I don’t think anyone deliberately created it, but supposedly at the moment labour get more seats and tories less, than they should given overall share of the votes, ie there are areas where tories need 1 million to get 1 seat, whereas in other areas labour only need 500,000 for example.

    Its unfair of course, but then the Tories enjoy other advantages under the current system, I would have more sympathy with their case to make things more democratic if they really meant it, which would mean they’d also have to look at primaries, and at reforming funding (in which they have a clear and obvious advantage.)

  • Richard

    “The Tories closed down more playing fields than Labour did.” So there, yah boo.

    A plague on both their houses.

    I was not being in the least party political, let alone bitter and twisted. None of you will answer the question, which you will tell me I am the only one asking, “Please tell us how the wonderful results being achieved would be affected if Blair’s original budget of £2.3 billion had been adhered to, and £80 million not been lavished on the opening and closing ceremonies?”

    If you are not prepared to answer this question, stop whinging about all the cuts to libraries and other vital services which could have been in receipt of an extra £8 billion of funding from the lottery etc.

    Or just continue to be led by the nose by AC and others who tell you what to think, along party lines.

  • Michele

     Boundaries will never be fair; what’s the criteria?  Head count, area to be trotted around by candidates, transport situation to allow voters to get to meetings, it’s endless. 
    My own constituency changed last time and even took in a large chunk from another London borough.
    Some things are better just worked with as they are, worked with, worked around, staffed accordingly.

    Poor Nick, he must feel like the virgin that gave it up for the village sneak.  He facilitated our NHS being carved up and given out to companies whose duty is to their shareholders, just how dumb is it possible for him to think voters are ?

    Out damned spot (as in whatever anyone imagined being his ‘decency’).

  • Anonymous

    Fox news is as ‘fair and balanced’ as the BBC is.  The BBC apparently believes it; why shouldn’t Fox?

    On your other comment about schools sports ‘investment’.  You know that was money that we didn’t have because Labour had already spent it ten times over.  That was no more a cut than me not having a holiday in the Maldives this year.  I could never have afforded it anyway; so there is no actualy cut, just an adjustment to reality.

    Also if we were to take away private schools’ charitable status and give the money to comprehensives, do you really think it would produce more Olympians?  Socialists always seem to think that everything is about money.  However, the fact that comprehensives cost the taxpayer almost as much as private schools do per head, proves that the problem isn’t money; it’s how wastefully the government spends it.

    Finally, as a Conservative, I’m surprised that you don’t mention the fact that Gove has continued Labour’s policy of selling off school sports fields and apparently signed away another 21.  Who’s in favour of that other than the officials whose salaries will be paid from the proceeds?

  • Gilliebc

    Oh I see 😉  
    But, why do you or anyone else need more than one Disqus account, Marika?

  • Gilliebc

    Disqus seems to struggle to keep up from time to time. Posts to this site don’t appear on Disqus record until they are posted on the site.  Elsewhere even with instant posting, posts sometimes appear instantly on Disqus record. Or, many hours later.  As you say M it is probably due to ‘capacity’.

  • Gilliebc

    This is a reply to a post you made earlier up (or down) the thread.  No conspiracy.  But, I do find it  odd that some people need multiple ID’s. Maybe they have good reasons for this, I don’t know.  Quite why anyone would need more than one Disqus account is baffling to me also.  But again there maybe good reasons for this.    

    Regarding this post of yours.  I think whichever party/s is in ‘power’ (lol) they have almost always sought to tinker with the system in a way that would be advantageous to their own party.

  • Michele

    We’re in a pickle, our premier-economist says 110% of his efforts are going in to trying to improve the country’s situation.  Right-ho :-s

    All of a sudden he’s also now talking about infuences from overseas …. cripes, were there none of those in ’08?

  • Anonymous

    Come on reaguns – that is the type of attitude that really gets my goat. Geography and history comes into it as well, and a purely simplistic appoach like that defeats the point, and will only result in increasing discontent and disillusionment with an electoral system for government.

    It is all about imagination, without blinkers on.

    We are still very different in the various parts of the UK, even with increasing and more efficient communication of both physical and oether forms these days.

  • Anonymous

    The Finns were amazing against the russkies then. Going down fighting must have been invented for the Finns then. They have my respect.

  • Anonymous

    think Freud, reaguns – he moves in mysterious ways, in the mind…

    : )

  • Anonymous

    OOPS – my vein was bulging then. But she does speak inane, doesn’t she? And she has become worse for such since her time away from beeb breakie telly. Annoying in fact.

    But don’t take it to heart Sian, take up Antiques Roadshow, or something like that…

  • redrugbyfan

    I worked with Peter Price for over 20 years and also knew David Heslop very well.  The other Tories who were prepared to roll up their sleeves and work with Labour during the Games were Peter Jackson and, believe it or not, Angela Knight.

    The Tories in Sheffield were, by and large a decent group until roughly the mid 90s when the right wingers really took over. 

     I’ll never forget the night Angela Fry lost her seat and Mike Bower and Peter Price spent the night consoling her.  I think we all knew how disastrous it was and what it would mean for Sheffield when the Lib Dems took over the Tory seats and then utlimately the Council.

    And they still peddle their hypocrisy and half truths as they fight to take over the Council again.

    Don’t know about you but I’m really praying that Clegg is a major loser at the next election – I suspect I know the answer!

  • Anonymous

    I notice that the Daily Telegraph bloggers are all now saying that Labour are certs to win the next election.

    1 year ago they were all (apart from Peter Oborne) saying that Labour couldn’t win with Ed Miliband as leader.

    Maybe spin works… or maybe they didn’t know then who would win, and they don’t know now.

    The only cert is that Obama will beat Romney.

  • Anonymous

    Alastair, Not bullshitting here now, got a reply from Jackie Lee who now lives in Canada, as spoken at here,

    Just sent her a message that Bradley Wiggins is a big mod, as well I suppose northern soul, fan, and his lambretta with RAF roundels and chrome wing mirrors out in all directions, on his day off off a pushbike riding, and mentioning to Jackie Lee of this northern soul classic she sung in an alias then back,

    By the way, all, Jackie tells me she is doing well, and is hoping for white horses and Rupert the Bear in the closing ceremony this sunday, which I have heard will be crammed full of brit music, from folk year dot and onwards, should be interesting.

    Another rumour I have heard, it is going to be a huge nightclub, with all music, from stone age stone drumming onwards…. should be interesting, he says!

    By the way, Brad with Paul Weller, pic, from just the other day,–1344329914-view-1.jpg

  • Anonymous

    Re: school sports, re. this beeb story,

    When I was a lad, and so on, we had four lesson of games, two hours twenty in our six day timetable.

    Yes, we had a six day timetable, two single PE lessons, and double games each of it’s weeks, each lesson timewise on the timetable thirty-five minutes long.

    So it was two hours twenty monday to monday at start of term, then tuesday to tuesday, and so on. If you were off sick from a few days, you had to phone or knock on door, if you didn’t have a phone, your mate, to find out what day of the week it was when you came back to school, if you lost track during your flu symptomed delerium.

  • Anonymous

    Seb Coe, who I’ve decided to cut some slack based on Alastair’s endorsement: “If women want to box they should be allowed to.”

    Quite right Seb. I saw some women boxing before and it wasn’t too good, but the standard in this games has been great, as good as the mens.

    Go Nicola Adams! (GB)

    Go Katie Taylor! (IRL)

  •  I’m stuck with it – it was a whim of a name for my blog done without thinking and now is more hassle than it’s worth to change…

  •  I lived in Sheffield during the WSGs and was a volunteer at the games village. The Olympics now is bringing back all the memories of a great few weeks.

    I just hope that the Olympic legacy for the whole country can be as profound as the one the WSGs had on Sheffield.

    In fact you could put Sheffield and Manchester after the Commonwealth games forward as  cases in point for this discussion. It shows the benefits and rewards of having world class facilities available.

    Without Don Valley Stadium would we have Jessica Ennis? Without the Manchester Velodrom would we have Sir Chris Hoy?

    Great athletes excel in great facilities.

  • Anonymous

    reaguns reaguns reaguns – a taffie from Flintshire won GB gold in the taekwondo, if you have yet not heard. She would have made Bruce Lee proud!

    And remember we were discussing boxing last week? Well, a big stink has eventually kicked up about dubious officiating, at last. But the IOC has been dragging their feet about this when that ref was sent home last week, on that overturn decision for that Japan boxer against that Azabajan boxer that kept falling down in the last round.

    Locog should have got on the case, even, even if it was outside their remit.

  • Anonymous

    Help for Heroes has got into a bit of a stink, with the MOD getting their sticky fingers on their charity money. Does not sound good. And I wonder what the annual salary of the Help for Heroes chief exec is, who appeared on the story on Newsnight tonight.

    Civil servants are not my favorite people, as in ones that work for the MOD, and others. Live in a warped world of their own.

  • Anonymous

    edit edit edit – what am I talking about, again!!! I didn’t mislink! This hot night air is affecting me, methinks. It is boiling at the moment down here in West wales – the sweat is tipping off me, and it is flipping midnight. It is well poeth, just not used to this weather, not in my genetics. Bring on winter and a ton of snow, and I will be back to normal(!).

  • Anonymous

    Maybe he has one when he is in work, or on his ipad or something, in transit, and one when he is at home. Different hats, as they say.

    Or he is an actor practising his method acting? But I don’t think so somehow… : )

  • Anonymous

    When he said “110%” I thought he must be doing that for a bet.

  • Anonymous

    not a reply to you ambrosian, just picked on you since you are number one in this week’s charts, at the top.

    Just general info for all visiting here – we are at over hundred comments on this thread, so it is on two pages, so click next page at bottom if you can’t spot that comment you would like to re-read, especially if it is full of lateral madness and obscure thinking, which I hope you are here for, otherwise I am wasting my time wearing out my precious fingers.

    Was wondering what had happened to my first Parralox song I posted, until I realised, and turned the page over.

    : )

  • Dave Simons

     That final sentence is so utterly and pig-headedly stupid that I wonder if there is any point answering any of your questions.

  • Dave Simons

     I don’t think prayers will be necessary! Thanks for the other information and I’m amazed to hear that the current bankers’ shop steward, Angela Knight, was prepared to work with Labour! Nothing puts me off the LibDems more than the gutter-level propaganda they push through my door.

  • Michele


    I like your pic though 😉

  • Anonymous

    Its true that they will never be “fair” under a first-past-the-post system, because even if we solve the problem where 1 million people vote in one constituency and 200,000 in another, even if we had 100 even wards of 500,000 each, labour could win 90% of the vote in 49 of them, but tories could win 55% of the vote in the other 51 and win. Yet I’m still in favour of first past the post rather than PR.

    Open primaries would definitely be the best thing we could do though.

    • Ehtch

      Open primaries? Like the US? Are you sure we can afford that neverending circus reaguns?

  • Gilliebc

    Well, for what it’s worth, I think that final sentence is spot-on.  All the while the tribalists are bickering about issues, from a party (any party) perspective, they are being deliberately and successfully distracted from the bigger picture.

  • Gilliebc

    Dave, you’re an intelligent bloke and I often wonder if you know more than you are prepared to say/write on this site. 

    I remember you writing some time ago, something along the lines of: A Tory government is happy to comply with the orders of the wealthy ‘ruling’ elite.  But, a Labour government has to be leant on a bit harder and takes longer to comply with the orders of the wealthy ‘ruling’ elte.  I’ve probably paraphrased that quite badly, but I think I’ve got the gist of it correct.  

    I’d be interested to know if you still believe this to be the case?  Tory Blair won 3 elections for the Labour party.  But, many would say, at what cost. Many people, both in real life and on various web-sites are saying ‘who the hell are we supposed to vote for come the next election, because they really are all the same’.  They are all the same imho.  Democracy is an illusion.

  • Gilliebc

    Shouldn’t that be he or she Ehtch?  

  • Anonymous

    I am a bloke Gilliebc, so allow me some slack…

    NOOO, not that sort of slack….

    : )

    reaguns a female? Ummm, interesting, Lt. Uhura! Females on the starboard bow, you say?

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t seen any of the controversial decisions, but certainly saw a couple of close ones. One went Ireland’s way yesterday, the very close fight Katie Taylor had with the Russian, and one went against Ireland today for the hugely unfortunate Paddy Barnes.

    Big Ireland vs England showdown tomorrow, Luke Campbell vs John Joe Nevin. Hope the judges are fair in that one!

  • Anonymous

    Dave, Angela’s Ashes brilliant film and book used to go on about boney arsed lads from the bog, in that irish catholic run orphanage, as local irish windups between ones from the coast and ones from the inland. Think the inlander lads of Ireland called them fish…. : )

    Clip fom the filum, Angela’s Ashes,
    Limerick City and all that,

    Thank god for henry eight…..

  • Anonymous

    might as well say, Alastair, cough, I was tendent to be a red in the bed, when I was young, but no, no, not active in that way, just my desperation on the iron curtain nonsense that was going on irratiating my planet in strontium-19 isotope in testing. Madness it was, simple human madness. But Stalin dying in early ’53 just seemed to make it worse! Went to the same school as this bloke,

    We saw both sides of the arguement, which is always a tricky place to be in. Was myself in eighties regular RAF, but I kept myself quiet, and experienced, bed blocks at dawn and knowing how to keep English Electric Lightning flying, as I was taught, and did, 100%, to help the long run of things,

    End of Stalin, and how the russians danced in 1953!

    Ах, да, янки!

  • Anonymous

    oops, edit, strontium-90 even, may have said 19, freud playing with my mind, again, what with met art russians of such…

    more tea vicar?

  • Dave Simons

    Tweedledum and Tweedledee were doing the rounds in the 1960s, courtesy of people like Paul Foot and Tariq Ali, (both of who I like, by the way). I wouldn’t say the Tory Party is happy to comply with the orders of the wealthy ruling elite – it is the party of the wealthy ruling elite, some of which it incorporates, but especially since the 1832 Reform Act it has had to adjust to the long march of democracy. So you get relative upstarts like Disraeli writing about ‘Two Nations’ and, fast-forwarding to now, you get Baroness Warsi fronting a party that has included, and still does include, dyed-in-the-wool racists. We the electorate have changed and they have to make themselves electable. No-one’s going to vote for a party that proclaims itself as the representative of the rich and powerful elite – they have to spin themselves as the party of freedom, individualism, fairness, justice and democracy, all of which sound good as abstractions but not so good when pinned down. But after all the dissent and upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s we’ve still got public schoolboys in charge, just as we had in 1962. That’s fifty years of progress!
    Labour comes from a different tradition of dissent and non-conformism, but it too has to make itself electable unless it wants to be just a protest organisation. The Attlee government made a phenomenal difference to society after the war and I’ll never forget that I was one of its beneficiaries and am permanently grateful. And let’s not forget that more people voted for Attlee than for Churchill in 1951, even though Churchill won more seats. Think what progress could have been made if Labour had stayed in office when the long boom started. But in the 1980s and 1990s the electorate had mostly forgotten or never known about all that, and had gone along with Thatcher. New Labour was an attempt to make Labour electable after four defeats, and it involved adopting a lot of Tory policies. But I still think they made some progressive reforms, mostly now ignored or taken for granted or reversed. So on balance I still do think that Labour makes a difference, against the odds. A lot depends on pressure from below, and that tends to advance and recede unpredictably.

  • Anonymous

    Its funny how those who love public spending (labour and the tories) are against it whenever it suits them ie Trident, prison building, open primaries. The costs would be utterly insignificant, and even if they were expensive, they would would be worthwhile and have myriad ways to fund them.

    This is too important. At the moment the unions pick the labour leader and a bunch of toffs pick another toff for tory leader. If we had open primaries we most likely would have had David Davis vs David Miliband. Open primaries mean that when the public is for something, a party elite can’t go against it. It means leaders can’t whip and bully their party members like Cameron does with europe – if the public is eurosceptic then the parliament must be too.

  • Thank you Alastair. There is considerable debate to be had about this and one cannot ignore the statistics regarding private education. The legacy of these games needs to consider our attitude to teaching and learning very carefully. Our greatest athletes have more than physical strength. Commitment to mental wellbeing is vital, and that needs legislating for. Every Child Matters? Of course they do.

  • Gilliebc

    Thanks Dave for that very informative reply. Much for me to ponder on there.  It’s difficult these days to keep the faith, when heart says one thing and head says another.  Time will tell, I suppose.

  • Gilliebc

    No, not reaguns, Ehtch.  Not Michele either.  Not to worry, it’s not important.   

    Klingons on the starboard bow?  Only joking btw. 

    I’m in danger of completely forgetting why I starting down this cul-de-sac in the first place 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Aether forms, even.

    Keep spelling that wrong, no matter how many times I know I have. Brain farts.

  • Anonymous

    That system has a habit of attracting the Ronald Reaguns, George dubious Bushs and Mitt Romneys of the world.

    No thanks, our system is not so capitalistically corrupt as that system.

    Mitt Romney is a bit of a twit (and of course a Republican tool for the richmen), isn’t he? You’ve got to agree with me there reaguns, surely?

  • Anonymous

    edit – strontium-90, as I have mentioned elsewhere why I subliminally got it wrong….

    and yes, sex reasons…. Freud as well as Openheimer have a lot to answer for…

  • Anonymous

    That was a great bout reaguns. Did you see it?

    Campbell put him on his arse in the final round, so I think it was a fair decision.

  • Gilliebc

    That’s spot-on Ehtch.  It’s all about getting the financial backing of the influential wealthy control freaks.  Or, who they choose to be their placemen/women.  It’s as corrupt as hell. e.g. Obama was little known until he was chosen to run for president.  He’s just their latest puppet. Whether they’re Republican or Democrat makes no difference.

  • Anonymous

    I watched it. I have mixed loyalties when Irish and British boxers clash, but I know from my time boxing that unlike in football, the Irish boxers support the British ones and vice versa, thats the beauty of boxing.

    It was indeed a superb bout, and Luke Campbell was the deserved winner, he’s a lovely lad too.

    I was disappointed that Fred Evans, and the two Irish lads Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon couldn’t get golds, but they had to meet some fearsome boxers.

  • Anonymous

    I think Reagan was a great president and despite the popular view, he was the 2nd most intelligent president of the 20th century, and the most principled. (The popular view also endorses chicken nugget, pot noodles, big brother and x factor lol!)

    Dubya was a populist, an everyman. Southerners and rednecks liked him because he didn’t appear elitist. In open primaries, someone like him will usually beat the Al Gores and David Camerons of this world. But yeah I accept that W Bush makes the score 1-0 against the open primary system!

    Mitt Romney surprises me. In theory, I would have thought such a guy could never make it under the primary system system.

    Hmmm… it seems you are 2-1 up here Ehtch! Well I get the silver medal anyway!

    And we still have to play the FDR, JFK, Eisenhower, Clinton, Nixon rounds!

  • Anonymous

    reaguns – Ronnie was intelligent?!? He was just a big lump of a homeboy republican jockstrap! Head full of cup cakes and mom’s apple pie!
    I can never ever agree with you there. Or are you just trying to wind my springs up?
    Pic of Ronnie here, fag in mouth, no no, the other kind… (see how pic mode works with Disqus now)

  • Anonymous

    doesn’t quite work – comes up double for me, another Disqus glitch that needs to be put on their snags list.