Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down must recollect that those who meet him in debate do not meet him on equal terms. He never makes any mistakes; he is not subject to any human infirmity; he knows what a man can deny, and what not; and when he asserts that my right hon. Friend cannot deny a certain statement, and when my right hon. Friend does deny it, the hon. Member continues with unabated confidence to assert that my right hon. Friend had not denied it. The hon. Member's means of acquiring knowledge are derived from higher sources than are available to us—sources of which we know nothing, and to which we have no access. We must approach him as infirm mortals, and any humble suggestions we make must be submitted to his infallible judgment.Ouch. Now, that insult was from the Prime Minister, a Mr Gladstone when discussing the Lords' amendments to the 1872 Ballot Act. Would one get away with such dripping sarcasm today?
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
I should warn that spoilers follow.
I didn't see the link between what the Doctor said about the tardis and the famous rhyme that allowed Amy to remember it. Very nicely done.
The fossil Daleks were nice, and having a Dalek plead for its life was unexpected.
The sequence before the the credits was brilliant.
I like the 2000 year old centurion too.
The jumping about in time worked and was good fun, but... usually the Doctor can't do this (Earthshock), the universe may be small but where was the penalty for him? This is too easy. Similarly just using the sonic screwdriver to let Rory open the Pandorica felt like a cop out. The wife thought that maybe his jumping about could have been the cause of the cracks: the baddies were right he was the cause. (Of course they may still be right.)
How they get Amy back was also a cop out. To give it the benefit of the doubt we still don't know why the cracks followed Amy. That the cracks were the Doctor unravelling doesn't explain why they only appeared in this season. I do hope we revisit that. We still need to know why Amy is so important: why did the crack appear in her room.
Come to that we have absolutely no idea why the Tardis behaved as it did. None at all. Unless I missed something.
I enjoyed the further references to other British SciFi. I wonder what I missed but I spotted Red Dwarf (jump starting the second big bang with
I also felt it was all getting a bit messianic with all three of Amy, Rory and the Doctor sacrificing themselves to save each other and the universe. Oh and then rising from death (x2) or the void (x1).
I'm keen to read the views of other bloggers...
Sunday, June 27, 2010
So what could be done about the ridiculous goal line decision? I'm not convinced by the introduction of technology but I'm even less convinced by FIFA's arguments against.
According to the media there seem to be three basic issues and one lame one that they raise:
- Fans enjoy debating the controversy
- That it can't be done everywhere, so it shouldn't be done anywhere (so called "universality of the Laws of the Game")
- It would interrupt the game too much
- That it costs too much
Let's look at these one by one...
It is clearly true to say fans enjoy discussing decisions, but irrelevant. We want games decided by footballers not random, poor or corrupt referees. The reason I mention the last is that Brian Clough's Derby team were robbed by a corrupt ref (who later admitted it). There is enough unavoidable controversy without allowing for a load of avoidable and unnecessary problems. Surely FIFA want to remove the really bad decisions: otherwise they can let me ref the world cup final.
This is not a sound argument.
They make a big issue of this and it simply isn't true. Competitive football is different all the way down the pecking order. At big games (internationals and premier league) there are a ref, two linesmen, and a fourth and fifth official. As you go down the levels you lose these step by step. At village football level you often have a ref and club linesmen, in pub leagues you just have a ref. At the level I played competitive football we had club refs (you'd nominate a player to ref the first half, and the other team the other).
We already accept different levels of officiating as we go down, so this is not a sound argument.
This one has some merit, but is not impossible to work round. Firstly these incidents are rare, I don't recall two in a game.
The ref can stop the game for various reasons and does (if a player is injured, to administer a booking, if an outside influence interferes). Just give the ref the power to stop the game for a check with an appropriate restart. Or give each team an appeal and if they win it they get it back, if they lose it they can't appeal again and the opposition have an indirect free kick.
Or just get the fifth official to check the video and radio the ref who can take the game back. The fifth official hasn't much to do anyway. No interruption at all, but how long can you give for it to be decided?
So there is an issue here, but it can be rationed (like substitutions) and would be rare. It isn't like a wicket in cricket.
Don't make me laugh. However these incidents are incredibly rare so is it worth it? That however is a different argument.
FIFA's arguments aren't that good. There is a problem to be addressed concerning interruptions in the game but that could be resolved with creative thinking.
As I said I'm not convinced that the change should be made. I agree with IFAB that the way ahead could be for two extra assistants at big matches (as mentioned in this account of the IFAB meeting). (Remember it isn't FIFA who set the rules, though they have an effective veto.)Ironically, England and Scotland voted in favour of technology at that meeting, and were voted down by FIFA, Wales and Ireland.
Have a look at the Pearce Sisters, which was one of the shorts at the Hay festival. Aardman have disabled embedding, so I'll wait here while you go and have a look.
I love the style. I also like the fact that the central characters show moments of tenderness. The dark humour is also very successful.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Called Denmark over Japan. Denmark looked better until the first amazing goal (and the first superb free kick of the tournament), then collapsed and the Japanese looked so much better. The second free kick was superb (the better of the two), and the final goal was a good well worked chance. Got Netherlands correct, but hardly a difficult shout. 1 out of 2.
As for group F, and I quote "Italy can't be as bad as they were against New Zealand again." Well I was right, but they were worse until the last few minutes, and Paraguay failed to beat the Kiwis. 0 out of 2 on calls, 1 out of 2 on advances.
Group G: Forgot Brazil's coach was Dunga. Again 1 out of 2 on results, but got the 2 advancers.
Group H: Spain did win, but Switzerland didn't make it exciting. I am pleased as Chile and Spain have been exciting to watch.
Anyway the gpg looks more normal now. Teams have got used to the ball (if that was the problem), and whilst we are still likely to have a below average tournament (and the 103 goals in 48 group games is in line for an all time low at 2.15 per game) it isn't as bad as at the start. The last round was 2.25 gpg, broadly in line with Germany. Will the KO rounds be above or below the group stage? Recent history is mixed with 2 above (USA and France) and 3 below (Italy, Germany and Japan/Korea).
I have found the anaylsis of the world cup on US political site 538 quite interesting. They have used the ESPN Soccer Power Index ratings in a model of the tournament and used Monte Carlo methods to predict the chance of teams getting through. They have Uruguay, Netherlands and Brazil advancing in that half with a fifty-fifty call for USA-Ghana. In England's half they have Paraguay and Argentina, with tighter calls for England and Spain.
Looking at the ties I'd say I agree with that, save for calling for USA by comfortably in that game (see 538's blog post which I agree with), and thinking Germany-England could well go to penalties...
Excellent weekend of football ahead however!
Friday, June 25, 2010
A prolific writer of TV screenplays I will remember him for the wonderful Beiderbecke Trilogy (starring James Bolam and and Barbara Flynn). The scripts are wonderful, and the beautiful slow pace allows a unworldly feel to envelop you. Despite the rather challenging subject matter, and sometimes scary possibilities being explored it keeps a sense of humour and doesn't preach. (The DVD box set is available from Amazon, and probably many other retailers too).
Whilst gentle they are clearly political: they do look at the role of the state, and what an individual could and should do if the government was misbehaving or failing (whether at a local or national level).
I did look for a clip on the web, but the only one I found didn't do the series justice. It did remind me of Beryl Reid's cameo as Sylvia, the oldest suffragette in town (in The Beiderbecke Tapes). I also love Robert Longdon as the town planner (in The Beiderbecke Affair).
It also had a wonderful soundtrack that I may be listening to this weekend.
He also adapted Chris Mullin's A Very British Coup for the 1988 TV series.
I really wish we could have a serious discussion about tax.
VAT is the easy option to raise. People notice it at the time but quickly forget about it. It isn't a fair tax, in that it hits the poorest hardest. It has been widely blogged that this tax rise hits the lowest incomes harder as they spend more of their income on VATable stuff. On luxuries like food and fuel.
The problem is that prices go up. Everyone is nostalgic for when you could get change from a penny/groat/schilling/pound/tenner [delete as applicable] when buying something. We accept inflation today, so the hit on what we can buy is small and one off. So prices go up now, and the tax take continues despite no further change, but people won't notice as prices go up anyway.
The result of this I have no idea how much of my income goes in VAT, but I get reminded how much goes in income tax every month because it is printed on my payslip.
In the States many years ago I saw shops explicitly put sales tax figures on their bills. I hated this as it looked anti-tax and made the costs clear without linking the benefits. However this same charge goes on the tax deductions on our payslip. Would it be healthier to ask shops to make the VAT explicit on more receipts, so we see when we are paying tax?
Of course we'd need to defend the benefits of taxation: health, education and other public services. This needs doing within the coalition anyway (and is why I'm still glad the LibDems are on board: we can be the conscience or handbrake for the Tory party's natural instincts) and in fact amongst the general public. Noone likes to pay tax, but we should benefit from our society and government.
However until people see how much of their pay goes in VAT it will still be a more invisible hit than income tax. That means that it will hurt less at the ballot box and be the easier option.
Would this transparency help, or would it (like my initial reaction) just make people more anti-tax in general.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
In just 7 weeks he has intervened in local government decisions on...
- rubbish collection and recycling
- flying flags
- food hygiene
- building at bank holidays
- council tax
Of course thats just edited highlights. Some of these I agree with the pronouncements from central government, others I disagree with. That isn't the point: if you believe in localism then stop interfering in local government issues.
One announcement was entertaining: the news that the Audit Commission were told to stop telling people to change their bin collection arrangements. This was presented as Pickles stepping in to defend weekly collections of rubbish. It was no such thing, it was an empty vacuous piece of spin.
Those Councils (like South Cambs and Cambridge City locally) that have alternate weekly collections know that Pickles is talking rubbish (sorry). It works. There isn't a problem with flies or smells for most of us who can cope with keeping the bin lid shut. It reduces the amount of rubbish to landfill by providing the spare men/trucks to do other collections and making a few people think about their behaviour when they run out of bin space.
I do hope Andrew Stunell, who is supposed to be the Local Government Minister, can get a grip on his boss.
Mexico are much underrated and were unlucky to get South Africa for the opening match. That said they were disappointing against Uruguay. The Argentians have just looked very good. I think that Argentina will win but it should be exciting.
Germany England on the other hand will just be nerve wracking. As long as it doesn't go to penalties (and yes I know the Germans missed the first penalty since Bismarck in 1882 or whenever)...
England have yet to look like they are really fired up. If they can't do it against the Germans then they never will.
My predictions for Groups AB and D were mixed: I called the right teams but wrong score in group A (although I called SAfrica over France), in group B I was spot on, in group D I didn't allow for Serbia self destructing (or Australia's scintillating performance) but got the right teams.
What about today and tomorrow's groups then.
Netherlands will get at least a draw to win the group against a woeful Cameroon. I had higher hopes of them. My eurocentricism makes me call Denmark against Japan. But it'll be close.
This afternoon's games I can't see not going to form. Paraguay top, Italy second. Italy can't be as bad as they were against New Zealand again.
A gap of 9 goals is too much for Ivory Coast to make up. Portugal will lose to Brazil and go through on a slightly better goal difference.
Oooh tricky. Spain need to beat Chile. Chile could beat Spain. Could the Swiss sneak through by beating Honduras? Too close to call, but this is a huge test for Spain. Can they find the cutting edge. If I have to make a prediction Spain will win 1-0, and we might have a draw to seperate Switzerland and Chile. Not confident about it though.
I also looked at the goals per game, and round 2 of the group game was an improvement. In the 16 second round group games we had 42 goals at 2.63 gpg, compared to 25 at 1.56 in the first 16 games. Round 3 has reverted to type though: lots of tense 1-0s (often very enjoyable like Ghana v Germany) means we have had 16 in 8 games (exactly 2 per game).
The tournament has broken through to 2.08 goals per game, it might beat Italia 90 yet.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I suspect this means that the budget today will be less extravagant than people fear.
I do hope that the coalition doesn't whack VAT up across the board. I fear however it will.
My only budget prediction is Labour hypocrisy. Remember they promised in the budget last year, that if re-elected, they'd perform £44bn of public sector cuts. However suddenly sticking to Labour's plans is cruel and regressive and nasty and...
This is not going to be a fun day to be a Liberal Democrat.
* and, to be fair, yellows too.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I have spent some time thinking about what I would and wouldn't accept personally.
Pay freezes are fine. I won't be getting an increment this year so it would mean a real terms cut, but when I've worked in industry I've accepted pay freezes when the company was not doing well. I'd even accept it despite a prior agreement.
Increased pension contributions: within reason fine. Public sector pensions are good. I think too many public sector employees don't realise how much better their schemes are than cash purchase which seems to be the usual method for most companies. I do think we need to pay more for the benefits. The 2.5% reported today would not make me flinch. Most public sector pensions are small but we do need to recognise the index linked final salary schemes are better than those most people get. The Unions won't get sympathy here.
Anything to hit the high paid. I do question the justification for the number of 100k+ employees. I'd certainly support a cap in the pension they can receive. It does need to be acknowledged by the Tory right that we do need people to run complex organisations.
Pay cuts. This is a tricky one. I think that there are some areas where the public sector pays too much, and others where it doesn't pay enough. I dislike privatising services immensely, and I also appreciate that you do get better cleaning if you pay more than minimum wage. Personally, though, if my job took a pay cut I would consider my options. I would seriously consider moving back to industry. Would I strike over a pay cut? Maybe, it would depend on the severity and the damage I felt it was doing to the area I work in. If too many people leave then frontline services(tm) are damaged. However my IT background makes me inclined to move on rather than strike!
Closing the pension scheme to new applicants. Not a good idea. I'd be very unhappy about this even though I'm inside it. This would seriously damage the attractiveness of public sector working: job security went years ago, pay has recovered from the damage it took in the 80s, but I could earn far more elsewhere. The pension scheme is a considerable boon. I'd rather see us paying more for it than it closing. Would I support industrial action on this? Possibly. This isn't about me but protecting the quality of new staff coming in.
Raising retirement age: OK, but I'd really rather not work until I'm 105. I also hope that some arrangement can be made to allow people to leave some jobs and do other work before claiming pensions without penalising them.
However whatever is done I'd like to see increased taxes on Capital Gains, taxes on banks and bankers, and something to reduce the tax load on the lowest paid: a pay freeze might not affect take home on the lowest paid if we increase the threshold substantially.
I do hope Mr Osbourne remembers it isn't our fault the economy melted down. Mr Brown and his City friends have a bigger share of the responsibility. We will take more than our share of the hit, but try and remember we do vital jobs. If we don't get that then many of us will leave, and many who don't will strike, and the steady erosion of goodwill goes another step.
Having watched House of Cards trilogy on DVD againly recently I decided I wanted to try some of Michael Dobbs' books. My wife bought me this for my birthday so I put aside my pile of worthy reading to plough into it.
The first thing to note is the excellent start to the book: two dead bodies and two affairs inside the first 10 pages. Dobbs hooks you in to the book quickly. The problem is then that he doesn't keep hold quite as well. In fact the opening is almost irrelevant beyond establishing the vacancy for the leader of the opposition.
The biggest problem is that everyone is a stereotype. Now this may have been true of House of Cards as well, but on TV they may have hidden it better. To give an example one character is a shop steward. He is Irish, called Pat and we meet him in a pub drinking Guinness and looking at the racing papers. He isn't alone in the stereotype stakes.
Looking at the acknowledgements this is more annoying because he clearly did some research to create some of the characters on parade.One little annoyance is the nature of the unnamed opposition party. It doesn't fit with any of the parties perfectly, but to my jaundiced eye it is clearly Tory. However the leadership process is closer to the LibDems (a simple ballot of members), and the scandals are reminiscent of the 2006 LibDem leadership election. Except for the inclusion of a woman in the list of candidates. Given the publication dates I do wonder if poor Oaten was part of the inspiration! Dobbs has sensibly avoided naming the parties so he can do what he likes, which is fair enough, but noone old enough to vote today will have problems identifying who they are meant to be.
Another problem with the book is that everyone Gini meets by coincidence is (i) someone who matters and (ii) falls in love with her. I can forgive the first (why bother recording it otherwise), but the second is more problematic. It certainly isn't clear why some of the characters act as they do towards her. Also her sources of information are unconvincing, as his her mutation from the most innocent of innocents to Lady Macbeth.
The biggest issue is the prose which I felt had only one pace after the initial opening. It felt flat, but I couldn't quite identify why. It was easy to read though, which for a book like this is the main thing.
Overall I enjoyed it on a brain checked in at the door level. The plot is fun and I wanted to find out how the ending would be engineered. I still want to read the House of Cards books, but I do hope they are better than this silliness.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Anyway me too. Although I am an amateur next to my wife, and she confesses to the same amateur status when compared to Millenium Elephant's daddy who knows everything. I'm, sadly, very impressed by his analyses.
I really enjoyed Saturday's episode and can't wait for the next one. Spoilers now follow.
The wife and I discussed possible ways out of the hole that we've been written into and they all seem to point to Amy.
I reckon she's a timelord. My wife reckon she's the Doctor's Daughter from The Doctor's Daughter. This will allow her to regenerate.
Unfortunately I think my wife might be right: Moffat asked that the DD not be killed, and it'd explain the strength of the Doctor's reaction to Amy's pass at him. I'd rather it was the Rani. I'm not keen on the DD to be honest.
The other possibility is that Amy's house could be a Tardis. The Lodger hinted at a building that was wrong being a Tardis, and the Doctor challenged Amy on this point last night ("too many rooms", "nothing in your life makes sense"). This also allows a Tardis to explode without removing Tardis access from the Doctor. How many times can I write Tardis in such a short paragraph? It would also explain the door: "perception filters" were mentioned in the Eleventh Hour about one door in her house, and were also in The Lodger. I'll admit I checked the former.
The house being Amy's Tardis would also explain why the cracks follow Amy.
I did for a while think we were just in Amy's head but that leads to a disappointing "it was all a dream" ending. Caron's Musing suggest another way we can get a cop out ending linking back. I think we can rule both out.
Or is Amy part of the trap? Is that why nothing makes sense? If so why do the Autons kill her?
Now I'm looking forward to being proved totally and utterly wrong. I'm wishing my life away again. In the meantime here is some football.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Since the bright start things have settled down. After the Australia v Ghana game (a suprisingly entertaining affair) we have fallen to 21 goals in 9 games, back to 2.33 goals per game. At least that is in line with other tournaments.
England were woeful. So disappointing to watch that performance. What is worrying is the lack of any innovation. Rooney was poor up front, and pointless as a left winger. Surely a switch to 4-3-3 isn't that scary?
However to keep it in perspective: we beat Slovenia we are through. Slovenia may be top of the group but they are a European opponent and that may suit our style of play. After all we did alright against Europeans in qualifying. Of course we had a fit Walcott then.
Wright-Philips was the closest to a high spot in the team, and you can't be rude about Joe Cole because we haven't seen him play, but I am starting to wonder if Theo should have been picked. This is entirely benefit of hindsight, I agreed with the selection at the time, but we need something different. Maybe Capello needs to play Cole, but I agree with whichever pundit said that if Cole is the answer you're asking the wrong question.
The big issue is at centre back. Carragher is banned. King is crocked. Ferdinand is Emiled. I'd guess it'll be Terry and Upson, but we are well down the pecking order. Dawson (who is probably next when Terry gets sent off or whatever), it should be noted, has the princely total of 0 caps.
Anyway I remain cautiously optimistic about reaching the knock out stages.
Looking at the other groups that have played 2 games:
Group A: France are relying on Mexico wanting to win the group. That isn't impossible: would you want to face Argentina, or would you prefer South Korea, Greece or Nigeria? France could still get there, but I suspect South Africa might want a result more than the current French team. Somehow I suspect Uruguay and Mexico will play out a 0-0 draw and get through.
Group B: Argentina are solid. I suspect that means Greece are going to get thrashed. Nigeria have been disappointing, so I suspect South Korea might sneak through the middle. Argentina and S Korea.
Group D: I suspect Germany will beat Ghana, which would mean the winner of Serbia v Australia would be in with a shout. However (assuming wikipedia is right about the tie break method) Australia would have a huge goal difference to overcome, and I think Serbia are better anyway. Germany and Serbia I think.
Anyway the next game in my football marathon is in a couple of hours. Cameroon v Denmark.
Then again I could do something else instead...
The problem with academies is that they are designed to water down the T&C of teachers. This was bad enough when it was done in schools that weren't good enough, but it could be disastrous if it becomes the norm.
Many teachers will simply leave the profession: it has attracted many people to it due to improvements in most schools under the last Labour government. This is going to be watered down due to the general public sector squeeze, but at least it will remain stable. If the job is made more miserable by daft ideas spreading amongst academies from the current ones (such as ridiculously long days, lack of PPA and so on) then it'd put people off and drive them away.
If the workload agreement is not normal then schools will really struggle to recruit and retain.
Thats the main problem.
Still the NUT thought last year would be a good time to strike about pay. Maybe they learned from that experience.
Of course the cynic in me thinks that the agenda is from Tory local councillors. They don't want to have to manage local schools and aren't good at it. By reducing the power of LEAs they lose the blame for when it goes wrong, and the bother of their electorate asking for help.
There is a political issue here: Councils do have democratic mandates and they should be respected. (They should be reformed to use STV, but they have do have mandates). Trusts/Foundations/Academies etc have no such need to be accountable to anyone.
Friday, June 18, 2010
This is a major victory for Unite's spin doctors, as they are dictating words being spoken on BBC Radio news this morning by the journos themselves.
Where is any attempt at balance like
- pointing out that the man in question is effectively one of Labour's biggest donor giving about £3m a year since 2007 (itself an example of the Telegraph swallowing a press release whole, this time from the Tories), or
- that Unite actively campaigned for Labour in the election, or
- that this is the union which is behind the BA dispute (or others), or
- that Unite is the largest public sector union and may have vested interests here, perfectly legitimate ones but one that should be stated nonetheless, or
- any attempt to get a LibDem reaction, or
- any critical engagement with the claims?
I'm off to rant and rave.
The first is El Empleo which appears to be on Youtube:
The IMDB page gives background info. It is also available online from a French TV company.
I like the gentle pacing and gentle satire of the film.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
And of course the people who did so much to get us into this mess aren't going to admit that, not after the new government has had literally weeks to settle in and sort out the mess.
But I do find Labour's "anger" about the North Tees and Hartlepool hospital almost comical in the hypocrisy stakes. Labour said they would spend £450m on this in an attempt to shore up the vote in the area. (Which didn't fully work. I imagine the new Conservative MP for Stockton South not be best pleased.)
This is an idea. Not a hospital. There are nice pictures drawn by architects but no constructions. It is to replace exisiting hospitals. Cutting it does not affect anyone's health care. Except the little model people who now won't be used in the scale model.
Labour are playing opportunistic opposition. Fair enough but don't expect to convince anyone. Perhaps engagement in the problem might be a better option. If we can't cut something suggest alternatives.
Comparing the goals in the various rounds of group games is unenlightening in the most part:
|Tournament||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||KO stages||Tournament|
There are no obvious patterns to me since 1990: we usually get most in the final set of group games but don't always. However it is noticeable how much lower the first round this time is.
The tournament needs a good round as the first round has very few goals. Now I'm not someone who can't appreciate a 0-0 draw, but you have to feel someone might actually score. The fact we still haven't had a decent free kick goal says something. Nigeria's effort today hardly counts: it was more about putting the goalkeeper in an impossible situation: a good free kick into the percentage area.
Still the Goalkeepers' union must be pleased that all their predictions of unpredicatble swerve have helped them for once.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
So you have a game, lets say Honduras v Chile. Obviously you'll be watching it because it is on TV/Radio/t'Internet. But who do you support?
You don't have any grandparents from Honduras or Chile. None of your club team play for the countries, and none of their big rivals players do either. You've never visited either, or met anyone as far as you know from the countries. None have a particular history against your first choice nations. You don't have either in the sweepstake, and the match prediction game you entered you are already last in...
My wife suggests
- Whose manager has the worst suit
- The goalkeeper with silliest ("most original") hair (Algeria!) or worst keeper kit (D Seaman for England in the Refresher kit)
- Team whose kit is most like your favourite team's kit
- Team who look most like Harchester Utd
- Players with most/least/biggest/silliest hair
- Best national anthem (I'd say "shortest")
- Team with most players with the same surname (a good way to chose one of the Koreas)
I'd go for the country with most Liberal MPs if I could be bothered to look it up.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
We've had lots of hype about the ball being a problem for keepers (I guess it must deform in odd ways that interact with the spin) but it has actually been worse for the attackers.
When I agree with the ITV pundits that a free kick that only just missed the target is the best we've seen so far it isn't good!
In the 6 games so far we've had 8 goals, an average of 1.3 per game(see footnote).
In complete tournaments the worst was Italia '90 at 2.2. Almost an extra goal. The first 7 games of that tournament yielded 20 goals, nearly 3 per game. That was helped by two mismatches (Czechoslovakia 5-1 USA and West Germany 4-1 Yugoslavia. Hmmm... only one of those countries exists today.)
I hope it catches fire soon but I'm pessimistic.
In other news ITV's apology for making HD viewers (of which I am not one) miss England's opening goal was pathetic. Not good enough. Much in line with the rest of their football coverage.
Footnote: I know it is 1 1/3 or 1.3333333.... but meh.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I will write about some of the sessions I attended at some point, especially when I've finished reading the books that go with them.
However I did sneak into the second hand bookshops and pick up a few books to add to my backlog of unread books.
One that jumped out at me cost the princely sum of £1.50 and is pictured right. It was written in 1981 and outlines from a broadly sympathetic (I think) position the reasons for the creation of the SDP and what might happen. Ian Bradley went on to different things than you might expect (and yes it is the same person!)
Overall the book reads easily and, at only 161pp, quickly. Ian Bradley is a lively writer. I think his sections on polls had all the health warnings, but the conclusions don't seem to include them. However his final conclusions are interesting:
If the SDP does well at the next election , it will almost certainly help the party which it has broken away from [...]
To be fair to Ian Bradley he couldn't have foreseen the Falklands.
He seems more prescient in the next sentence:
The effect of it's arrival may well be to help the Liberals [...] It is not difficult to imagine after the next election a victorious alliance contingence of MPs which consists of only a handful of Social Democrats, perhaps just 3 or 4 of the exisiting MPs, and a substantial number -- perhaps fifty or more -- of Liberals.
The Liberals did remain the senior grouping in 1983 (17 against 6) and 1987 (17 against 5). But never matched poll levels. Predicting a level of 50 for the Liberal (Democrat) parliamentary party seems reasonable now, but would have been unheard of in the 1980s.
In chapter 2 he gives an overview of new parties. He says that they need 20-30 years to enter government, or vanish in about 5-10 years. The SDP may be unique in doing both: it took 16 years for New Labour to emerge as an arguably Social Democratic government (albeit a bureaucratic centralising one), or 29 years for the LibDems to enter the coalition, but the SDP as a real force vanished in the merger after only 6 years.
Well worth a read if you can find a copy. Which looks easy enough. I may track down a copy of his Strange Rebirth of Liberal England when I've read more of the backlog.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Some questions I may rant about arising from the election are...
- Why is it we keep believing good opinion polls and ignore the bad ones?
- Why do we lose in three way marginals?
- How do we chose target seats so badly?
- Why are we disappointed with our best ever total vote as LibDems?
Some have easier answers than others...However for now I think things have moved on enough to ignore these and instead move on to issues that don't concern me.
Things That Don't Concern Me 1: The Deputy Leadership
I had no idea the membership didn't vote for the deputy leader of the party. Mind you I ought to have done the '06 and '03 elections were done the same way and I was a member for both.
So we have two candidates:
Tim Farron backed publicly by Ming, Tessa Munt and Chris Huhne.
Simon Hughes backed publicly by Beith, Vince and Sarah.
See the list on LD Voice for current state of play.
In my opinion Hughes must win. His speech at the special conference was superb. He is a voice from the outside of the coalition. He is a liberal fighting against Labour by being better than them at fighting for social justice.
So I hope my MP votes for Hughes, and I hope he wins. Then we have a strong, experienced voice critical of the coalition within it. Hooray!
Things that don't concern me 2: Which Milliband
I really don't care. Balls would be less of a disaster for Labour than some people seem to think. People say they dislike combative opposition but the mud will stick. Milliband E and D are interchangable.