Friday, 31 October 2008

Five for the morning

5 interesting things spotted on the web:

1 - As my girlfriend put it 'Obama should win just because of this'
2 - Excellent new history of Birmingham website (hat tip Birmingham: It's Not Shit)
3 - A convincing argument for a European Stability Fund (hat tip: French Politics)
4 - The excellent Michael Tomsky on Sarah Palin
5 - Cllr Bob Piper on the Stamford Millions


Thursday, 30 October 2008

The day cricket became a joke

Congratulations to the ECB and Alan Stamford for turning cricket into the biggest sporting joke since Eddie the Eagle. For those not well versed in the politics of our beloved national game essentially the England cricket team has prostituted its self to a Texan Billionaire. He has then treated the players (and there wives) like the cheap whores they have become, much to the players surprise.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Welcome Back Ollie

Glad to see Ollie Thomas back where he belongs.

One of my abiding memories of watching Moseley as they battled away in National Division Two was seeing Ollie kick points from all over the pitch including from behind the half way line.

however good a kicker he was his physical strength and passing let him down on more than one occasion but a stint down in Cornwall for the Pirates should have done him some good in that regard so hopefully he can make a substantial impact and help Mose push on against Esher this weekend.


Good lord it's cold.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Polls, Polls and more Polls

New ComRes poll out today in the Indy shows Labour slowly gaining ground and cutting the Tory lead.

Is a crisis always good news for the incumbent?

My gut feeling is no, however Gordon Browns reputation and approach to politics seems to suit the moment this could be his time. Next week will will have the result of the Glenrothes by-election and that will be very interesting indeed. I suspect the Labour Party would never have let Gordon Brown do walkies in the constituency if they thought a defeat was on the cards. But we shall see.

Monday, 27 October 2008

An odd weekend

I am not sure anyone will care but I had a slightly odd weekend. Not least because we got locked in the Bull Ring on Saturday night and then got locked in New Street Station on Sunday Night. Weird. Turns out the former was the fault of a rampaging mob of Bluenoses and the later remains a mystery.

In between these imposed confinements I also had the chance to catch Russell Howard of Mock the Week Fame at the Alexander Theatre. One line he came up with struck a chord. Birmingham he said is "titling on the edge of gentle lunacy".. brilliant and spot on.

Sport round-up

Another trip to the Westcountry and another narrow defeat for Moseley, this time at the hands of the Cornish Pirates (that's a team for those who think Cornwall still resembles a Robert Louis Stevenson novel).

Meanwhile Aston Villa cruise to a 4-0 win at Wigan ..easy..easy...easy. It was in fact a fairly kind result for Villa as Wigan are a decent side.

Also well done to Redknapp for getting the Spurs job, i have always liked the man and so wish him well even if it would be deeply humorous to see them go down.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Couldn't happen to a nicer man

Just to lighten the mood... did you hear about the homophobic Austrian politician who crashed into a tree after visiting a gay night club to console himself after breaking up with his long term gay partner and successor as party leader.... shame.

It the big R

So i suppose we had better get used to the fact that the UK is entering a recession. I can hardly remember the last one, but what i can remember is the high street of the small town I grew up in losing almost all of its shops. I can recall there only being a butchers, a newsagents and a chemists. Today there are dozens of shops many of the them catering to a wealthy clientele. There is even a cheese shop in which Rory Bremner has been spotted. I fear for that cheese shop.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Euro elections: why the pundits are wrong

Now that Brown seems to battling through the current crisis and the Tories appear to be on the backfoot commentators now seem to agree that losing Glenrothes by-election will not bring about a coup. Instead they have, en masse, decided that the Euro & Local elections will be the crucial point. I disagree.

Let us remind ourselves that Labour got a mere 22.6% of the vote at the last Euro's and elected just 19 MEPs but then the Tories only got 26.7%, the reason UKIP. at the next election i expect UKIPs vote share to plunge to around 10% as a result both the Tory and Labour vote will recover. Brown can therefore claim an improvement. As for the locals we hardly have any seats left to lose.

I am convinced therefore that Brown will survive a poorish result and lead Labour into a 2010 election.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Opps - Gideon on the Ropes

This is what we all like to see, a good old fashioned Tory scandal... Money, yachts, Chums from Oxford etc etc. Clearly the Tories forgot that Mandy is back and one thing you do not do is mess with Lord Mandy.

The fact that even the True Blue Telegraph and Mail are running big with this story suggests that Cameron has a battle on his hands. I'm sure anyone who saw him on the ten o'clock news will agree that he looked more flustered than he has in the past. This is a true test of his abilities to manage a crisis but it could also be an opportunity to offload a potential rival before the next election.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Freaks of Nature? Birmingham's MPs

For those who don't follow local politics here in Birmingham I though I would do a few pen pics of our local politicians. The good, the bad and the utterly useless. Part One, i.e this part, will focus on the current crop of Members of Parliament that have the privilege of representing Birmingham at Westminster.

Richard Burden, Labour, Northfield

Old fashioned sort of Labour MP broadly on the left but fairly mainstream. Strong supporter of Palestine and various other traditional left wing causes.

Liam Byrne, Labour, Hodge Hill

Blairite high flyer with a strong reputation in Westminster. Has a local difficulty with a popular Liberal candidate. Now in the cabinet as a legislative enforcer.

Roger Godsiff, Labour, Sparkbrook & Small Heath

Little known outside his constituency. But does have an unnerving habit of appearing on the radio but only to talk about football.

John Hemming, Liberal Democrat, Yardley

Verging on being a comic strip character. A self made millionaire turned play boy liberal with a taste for Councillors. Largely responsible for turning South East Birmingham into a Lib Dem Fortress. Not to be taken too seriously, but a decent enough local operator who knows the value of press coverage even for daft stories.

Lynne Jones, Labour, Selly Oak

Trendy leftie with a thing for Palestine. Lost out to McCabe in the battle for the new Selly Oak seat after major boundary changes.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour, Perry Barr

A Controversial but cunning politician who has battled his way into parliament. Raised in Birmingham and one of the few genuinely local figures in the Parliamentary Brummie Section. Traditionally viewed as being on the right of the party but has lent further left in recent years surprisingly supporting Jon Cruddas for deputy leader.

Steve McCabe, Labour, Hall Green

Scottish, Trade Unionist and Whip. Fairly typical of the mainstream of the Labour Party. Descent man who uses a pretty straight bat.

Andrew Mitchell, Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

A True Blue Tory through and through. Dull but effective with a history of low status jobs in Westminster currently Tory Shadow International Development Secretary. Having a massively safe Tory seat should be around for as long as he wants to be.

Clare Short, Independent Labour, Ladywood

Looks and sounds like a primary school teacher but has proven to be an extremely polished politician both in opposition and in Government, as Secretary of State for International Development, a role in which she excelled. Resigned from Blair's cabinet over Iraq War despite voting for it. Has clearly gone a bit barmy since.

Sion Simon, Labour, Erdington

Previously a Blairite but then signed the infamous Curry House Letter that led to the downfall of Blair. Holds a safeish Labour seat but with a resurgent local Tory Party led by the boy wonder Bobby Alden. Now a government Minister for Skills. Has been known to jog past my house.

Giesla Stewart, Labour, Edgbaston

First ever Labour winner of the Edgbaston seat a crowing moment on the 1997 Election Night. In recent years has made a few enemies by railing against Browns leadership and the Lisbon Treaty. Can be considered to be doomed but a changing demographic could see her scrape home at the next election.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Moseley RFC

Upon my arrival in Birmingham one of my first ports of call was the local Rugby Team, at that time Moseley were battling away in National Division 2 (the 3rd Tier of English Rugby) since then the club has been promoted into Div 1 and they finally are starting to get a bit of stability after years of uncertainty.

For those unfamiliar with the clubs history, Moseley were one of the biggest team in England boasting many internationals and a tradition of success streaching back into the mists of time. Sadly the club failed to make the transition to professionalism and not only did it slip down the leagues but it also neatly went under and lost its home ground in Moseley. After three years of struggle at the Birmingham University Ground the club is now resurgent with a permanent home at Billesley Common. Planning permission is in place for a brand new stand that will make the facilities at Billesley permanent.

The team are now sat confrotably in mid-table and look to have put the bad times behind them. But we still need more people turning out to watch what is some of the best quality rugby available in England. The atmosphere at a rugby club on match day is so different to any on offer at a big time football team that it ensures every game is fun regardless of the result.

Blogging Thoughts

The world of blogging seems to be becoming more divided between what I describe as professional blogs, opinion blogs and expert blogs.

Iain Dale, Mike Smithson & Paul Staines fit into the professionals section, as they earn significant money from their work and have a large audience, by blog standards. Whilst Dale and Staines are pioneers of political blogging they are massively partisan and therefore fit fairly comfortably with the older world of print journalism.

Opinion blogs are blogs like my very own, strictly amateur, covering every subject under the sun, often poorly written and usually falling well short of excepted journalistic standards.

Then we have the expert blogs like this or this. These are often tied to traditional media and on the whole are less partisan, more in depth and as one would expect more reliable sources of information.

I am sure that blogging moving out of its eraly stages into a more professionalised era, it remains however a great bastion of free speech. We may more interconnection and professionalism in blog jouralism but also a more corporate approach being taken with better branding and advertising.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Best Internet Game Ever

This has to be the most fun you can have on a desk.

For myAmerican & French readers .. its cricket.

Bob the Builder

One of my many little obsessions, i.e subjects I can get very angry about without actually knowing much about, in architecture. I think there is a great debate to be had on the relative merits of different buildings but it is a subject that often seems to stifle proper debate. On one side with the majority who prefer, in fact adore, classical design and view any building built after 1920 as an expression of function rather than having any aesthetic qualities worthy of comment. Then there is the much smaller group of people, who tend to be involved in architecture, who view modern buildings as paragons to mankind's brilliance and who view the majority as backward looking conservatives who clearly do not understand the beauty which they are presented with.

I like to think there is a happy balance to be struck between the two. Birmingham is an ugly city, there is no hiding from that fact to pretend otherwise is just plain weird. It highlights how architects can get urban design incredibly wrong. Many of its modern buildings are impressive structures that if stood alone would look bold, innovative and yet have a certain majesty for example: The Bull Ring

Unfortunately collectively these buildings make Birmingham look like a complete mess, because it has seemingly has no overall structure holding the city together. I just wish that planners would work more closely with architects to develop an urban environment that has a level of symmetry. Beauty is often not so much to do with the design of one building but in the way it fits into its surroundings. The best example i can think of to illustrate requires a short hop to the North and into Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The Royal Museum of Scotland, below, sorry about the picture quality, is an example of how to work within an older street setting and yet produce a beautiful and functional building.

Let this be an example to those who seek to once again re-develop Birmingham.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

First Proper Post

Anyone who has not been living under a rock can have missed the fact that the economy has gone a bits tits up lately. I think we can draw several lessons from what has been going on in recent months;

1 - If you deregulate the market greedy people will push the new rules to their limits.

2 - Sometimes even the most freemarket of administrations will have to use state power, all politicians are hypocrites when faced with a crisis.

3 - National governments are powerless in the face of global trends (ok so we already knew this but its worth highlighting again in case anyone forgot about the whole Globalisation thing)

4 - My house is now owed by the British taxpayer

5 - Very few of our elected leaders, civil servants or bankers understand the flow of money around the globe.

Finally, isn't it lucky that a big power happened to be in the Presidency of the EU during this period. Would the PM of Slovenia, Finland or Ireland been able to cut a deal like Sarkozy managed at the weekend?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Pointless List

As a man, I do enjoy a good list, So here's a rubbish one

Top 10 places in Birmingham

1 - Digbeth in general
2 - The Lord Clifton Pub, Hockley
3- Moseley Rugby Club, Billesley
4 - Sutton Park
5 - The Jewellary Quarter
6 - The Barton's Arms Pub - Aston
7 - The Mac Cinema, Cannon Hill Park
8 - The Anchor Pub, Digbeth
9 - Villa Park
10 - Victoria Sqaure,

Not another new blog

Just when you thought there were too many blogs in the world along comes another one. But this one is different... well no actually its pretty much the same as all the others. You know the usual stuff; self opinionated rants, trivial facts and petty squabbles with fellow bloggers.

Mostly this is just an excuse for me to write something creative every now and again. So i hope you enjoy my first foray into the wonderful world of blogging and please don't get too worried if it all goes quiet occasionally as i do have few other things to keep me busy as well.