Saturday, 30 October 2010
The danger is that whatever the Coalition propose, somehow appear to lack real thought and preparation, as if the main requirement is the need to show macho toughness and frighten sections of the community to death. Alas, even amongst its supporters there is a concern that some of the proposals are going to cost a hell of a lot more than any gains, with a little too much grandstanding and not enough detail. A bit like the way Labour used to do things!
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is having problems with the policy to promote economic growth, with one of his own ministers expressing concern that the introduction of local economic partnerships were "in danger of failing to aid economic growth". It seems the minister, Mark Prisk, was passing on the concerns of business leaders in a letter to Mr Cable, which was promptly leaked.
One would think that before any policies were introduced, there would be discussions with those very same business leaders, but there is an impression that this government is working in an idealistic vacuum, under the guise of "national interest".
The tabloids are having a field day reporting the Wayne Rooney downfall from the heights of hero-land, to the greedy, prostitute-loving love-cheat that he has become.
As he and wife Coleen play out their version of love and marriage on the sun-beds in Dubai, photographs of their 7-star lifestyle are daily splashed across the media, stirring up even more envy and hatred for the lad from Liverpool.
Whoever is responsible for his public relations need to question their own suitability for the role, because surely it would have been better had he remained indoors for awhile?
He and his wife are due back in the UK over the weekend, but when he will start to play again is not certain, although his return to the pitch will prove an eventful occasion.
Of course when it comes to football, the media is hypocritical. If he starts to score goals again he will go from zero to hero before the game is over and it really won't matter who he pays to rogers.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
For those of us not born in the USA, but brought up on Hollywood movies and a belief that with its military might it is a country that stands tall and firm on the side of the good, we feel let down every time something comes along to damage our optimistic view of that country.
We glossed over the treatment of the Native American (even cheering on the cavalry in so many movies); shook our heads in disbelief over the betrayal of its allies in Vietnam and cried alongside its citizens over the 9/11 assaults on New York.
We were shocked and even horrified when we witnessed the country's vulnerability in its initial failure to rescue its own people in the aftermath of Katrina, but it was easy to blame an incompetent George W. Bush for that.
Abu Ghraib was a sickening disappointment, proof that incidents of torture and humiliation were not just acts of the individual, but endemic within the US forces and the shaming of America started then. The release of the latest leaked documents have, once again, highlighted serious brutality done in the name of the USA, or with its silent approval.
The documents are not helpful to the Allied efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it does raise serious issues about discipline within the forces, or if country-endorsed torture is acceptable why it is so for one country, but not another? Many US service personnel have died in operations overseas and it would be a damn shame if wherever it goes, the American legacy was to be one of brutality and torture.
Should the documents been released for all to see? Perhaps the question should be...have the horrific allegations been properly investigated and action taken against the perpetrators?
Saturday, 23 October 2010
On the day, George Osborne gave a great performance on behalf of the Coalition, although after he sat down having sounded the death knell for the jobs of many, I could have done without the congratulationary orgy from the government benches. But, there is a general view that the government has been left with no choice but to take the action it has, due to the horrendous mess left by the Labour government. It was interesting that Gordon Brown did not have the balls to attend the House of Commons to hear Osborne dismantle his pitiful economic legacy.
I do agree with the Shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson, that there is a touch of Conservative "ideological" dogma about the cuts, but it is time that the waste in public spending and the cult of benefits were shorn of excesses. It must be difficult for Labour to sit and listen to a catalogue of its shortcomings during its time in power. It is sad that Labour has produced two Prime Ministers in a row who will be remembered for not quite the right reasons.
Since the formation of this government it is David Cameron and the Conservatives who have emerged as the positive party in this Coalition and if there is kudos to be had from its activity, then one feels it will be they who will benefit.....and at the expense of their partners.
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are seen to have surrendered too many principles, not in the interest of the country, but purely for the opportunity to taste power. This is reflected in recent polls, which would mean that if an election was held tomorrow, the Liberals would lose seats to their Coalition partners. Perhaps that is the price Nick Clegg is prepared to make, but in the coming months and years I am not so sure his party will thank him for it.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
It is said that Rooney is demanding £180,000 per week, double his current wage and there are several clubs lining up to sign him. Rooney has never had class or looks, relying purely on the skills he once displayed on the field, but of late even his football talent appears to have deserted him and one wonders if he will ever regain his form.
Despite his great wealth he is obviously not a happy man and his dalliances with various call-girls and the resulting publicity cannot have made for an easy home life, despite the united front he and Colleen now portray in the media. He seems to be on a downward spiral of despair and it is hoped that those closest to Rooney will advise him well and consider what is best for him as a person and player. And not just feed his greed.
Someone should also tell him to get a grip before his behaviour loses him even his greatest supporters, including his wife.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
"The road to Westminster is covered in the skidmarks of political parties changing direction," he declared, excusing what many in his party feel is a compromise too many in exchange for a place at the top table.
A few Lib Dems MPs have vowed to vote against the proposal should it come before Parliament and there are activists in the party embarrassed by how quickly senior Liberal Democrats have brushed aside election promises.
If University fees do increase, as proposed by Lord Browne, then it will place a great strain on the already stretched incomes of ordinary families. The concern is that the less well-off would take longer to pay and therefore attract higher interest charges than the wealthy, who have access to large funds. It would be sad if a University education became, once again, the privilege of the rich.
We are all aware that cuts and sacrifices must be made to get the country back on track, but the Liberal Democrats are in danger of coming across as the party most keen to embrace the hardships, regardless of the cost to sections of the population.
Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats need to be aware that voters will only accept so much to support the economy and won't appreciate a too eager approach just for the hell of it. Mr Cameron and his Coalition patsy, sorry partner, are in danger of overdoing the John Wayne "a man's got to do....." hardcore dogma.
University is not the be all for future success, but within the "Big Society" shouldn't the less well-off have the right to decide for themselves? Perhaps Mr Cable might even consider it worthwhile defending that principle - and to hell with the skidmarks?!
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
As I write, twenty-three of the thirty-three miners have been brought to the surface. For them, that first sight of light must have been an exhilarating miracle moment and for the families the end of 68 days of drama and prayers answered.
A Hollywood film will follow, but along the way the miners will face the pressures of celebrity and unsettling questions now surfacing of rows and mutiny in those first hours after they were trapped. It is hard to imagine the despair they must have felt when they first realised their predicament.
It is only natural that under stress they would have struck out at each other. It says a lot about the human condition that they quickly realised that to survive they needed to depend on each other and let's hope that the in the days and weeks ahead their courage is not tainted by recriminations.
Monday, 11 October 2010
We are so used to Hollywood movies where such US forces are not only on the side of the great and good, but also succeed in their mission, that it is still a shock when the reality is the opposite.
The attempt to rescue British aid worker Linda Norgrove from the Taliban in Afghanistan, has resulted in her death and the news that she was most likely killed by her would-be rescuers, a team from the US special forces.
Following the failed attempt to rescue Miss Norgrove on Friday, the information that was readily accepted by the British government and the media was that her captors had deliberately killed her as the US special forces moved in.
It wasn't until today, Monday, that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, had a telephone call with the news that one of her would-be rescuers may have detonated a grenade that killed her.
Such rescue operations must be full of risks and there is no doubting the bravery of those who tried to save her from her captors, but there have been a number of incidents over the years, in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is believed a gung-ho response from US forces resulted in unnecessary deaths.
A full review of this failed operation is underway and a big question will be why detailed descriptions of her death by a ruthless captor were allowed to gain currency?
I agree her performance of "We Are The Champions" on Saturday was weak and that was reflected in the public vote, but when she took to the stage on Sunday to stay in the show, I thought she gave a strong performance of The Beatles' Don't Let Me Down. Sadly, F.Y.D were the weaker on Sunday and the right artist, Katie Waissel, was chosen to go through.
Over 16million tuned in on Sunday for a programme that is providing all the drama of a soap opera. Simon Cowell is portraying himself as the reasonable one, all edgy and happy to embrace the diversity of talent, while Louis Walsh still can't help coming across as quite a nice guy, even if he occasionally uncovers his claws in the direction of the precious Cheryl and the God-King Cowell.
My only concern for the long-term future of the show is that real-life events surrounding some of the artists, mostly sordid, are overtaking the entertainment value and it was that scenario which eventually led to the downfall of Big Brother.
It seems there will be no series next year because Cowell will be busy with the American version. Should it return in 2012, it's likely the judging panel will be new and by then Cheryl will either have made it in the States or not, Ms Minogue will be back in Austrailia and Louis will be planning the next volume of Westlife's "Greatest Hits". Simon will, of course, be even richer.
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Having stabbed his own brother in the back, it was very sensitive of Ed Miliband to prevent further damage in family relations, by not appointing as Shadow Chancellor, either Yvette Cooper, or her husband Ed Balls,two people with experience of the Treasury.
Instead, to prove class warfare is not dead, he has appointed Alan Johnson, the ex-postman and therefore a bona fide member of the working class,to face the ever so posh George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and wallpaper heir.
What fun will be had at the Dispatch Box, as the man from below stairs defends the lower classes from the aristocratic Chancellor, who is likely never to need state benefits to uphold his own lifestyle. If the appointment of Alan Johnson is to highlight the class difference between both men, then it is a sad and cynical approach by the new Labour leader to the financial crisis. And it would be a betrayal of Alan Johnson's own integrity to allow himself be used in such a way.
However, Mr Johnson may have joked yesterday that he intended to "pick up a primer in economics for beginners", but he is a shrewd politician who is likely to surround himself with clever advisers. Miliband himself will want to play a high-profile role in opposing the economics of the Coalition government.
By appointing Mr Johnson and not Cooper or Balls, Miliband may have avoided Labour going too far down the left-wing route in its opposition to the Coalition proposals. He may also have postponed others of the "new generation" becoming too power-crazy. His new 60 year-old Shadow Chancellor has made it known in the past that he does not aspire to the Leadership of his party. That will please Ed Miliband.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Now her nice girl crown has slipped a little, with the country up in arms over her decision not to chose the obviously talented Gamu Nhengu to join the X Factor finalists. Her decision did seem strange, although we now know that the talented Gamu and her family have been ordered out of the country and back to Zimbabwe. It seems the family's visa to stay in the UK has run out. Did Cheryl know this when she made her decision and advised not to choose her?
While viewers were, in my view, rightly perplexed by Cheryl's choices, she did not deserve to be attacked on Twitter or have sad people make threats to kill her. Accusations of racism are vindictive, especially since her ex-husband is black, as is her friend will.i.am who sat by her side during the auditions.
The negative spreads in the tabloids will be a warning to Cheryl Cole that those who built her up can just as easily pull her down. Ms Cole is hoping to join Simon Cowell on the American edition of X Factor when it launches next year and the bad publicity over Gamu will not help her chances. She will now be hoping that the three girls she has selected will do her proud, although I suspect that at least one of them will let her down big time.
Jacqueline married Aristotle Onassis for money and security and over the years there were rumours that her one true love after the death of the President, was his brother Robert Kennedy, himself shot dead in Los Angeles in 1968. It was a few months after his assassination that the former First Lady shocked America and the world by marrying the shipping magnate.
Now a new play is to open in London on October 12th which suggests that Onassis paid for Bobby Kennedy to be killed. It is based on evidence that is mostly circumstantial, but that has never got in the way of a good story.
The play, by Martin Sherman, is called "Onassis" and raises the question was Robert Kennedy killed because he didn't want his sister-in-law to marry the Greek? Throughout her life Jackie O remained a mysterious and glamorous Icon and assuming the premise of the play is correct, one wonders if she ever suspected the awful truth?