Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where for art thou Everton

As a blue I always know we aren't going to launch audacious swoops for top level players. Extravagent wages tempting foreign mercenaries to be joined by cherry-picked England internationals...nope it's fair to say that Everton are not a "Money" club.

Instead Moyes' revolution, whilst no less seismic than the City/Chelsea uber-splurges, has been all about players with a point to prove being given the perfect place to prove it. Generally players improve at Everton nowadays, they blossom. Cahill, Arteta & Pienaar cost the same as the amount liverpool lost on the Robbie Keane debacle. Seamus Coleman probably cost the same as Glen Johnson's daily wage.

That said this flow of players seems to have dried up now and signings seems to be very limited. After Lescott left we invested the money in Distin, Bily etc but since then Moyes seems to be feeding on scraps. Beckford was always going to be, at best, a slow burner and Gueye was going to take a long time to adjust to the pace but they represented our only striker signings....this close season looks to be more of the same, Everton have a solid base but they squad is tiny and needs augmenting otherwise another squandered season in the doldrums beckons

either that or we say goodbye to prize assets like Fellaini and/or Baines and trust Moyes and re-invest.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ed Miliband takes on News International

So Ed is going for the jugular on this, a brave move given that he's the first Labour or Tory leader to disregard the consequences of a hostile News International.

Already dark forces are stirring and warning that they will make it personal for him if he makes calls for Rebekah Brooks to resign. We all remember what happened to Chris Bryant.

Miliband is sticking to his guns though, with David Cameron umming and ahhing and desperate not to make too much noise because he knows he's thick as thieves with the Chipping Norton Set it falls to the Opposition Leader to grasp the nettle and hope the public stay behind him.

The problem with this is that the public are notoriously easily lead (as the Kaiser Chiefs said)...despite the outrage they aparently doubled the print run of the final News of the World, possibly this was a clever, loss-leading publicity stunt but if not what message does it send to the advertisers who made a stand and boycotted the paper?

Interestingly I can see a pleasing devil-may-care attitude to Miliband's attacks and why not? He must have known he was never going to get a fair crack of the whip from the Tory press so why not go out of his way to take them on when they a vulnerable. Even if ultimately the right-wing media ends up as hostile as ever will that, in the eyes of the public, be a bad thing. If Cameron is still seen as their darling then being the man of the people on the outside will be a good thing and will allow him a free-er hand in his opposition.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Our new tree fern is doing nicely

Lost so many plants in that winter. That cold cold did for the huge sprawling yukka we had out the back so we've decided to replace it with something a little more hardy (hopefully)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Andy Coulson to be arrested

It keeps going and going and going. Today Andy Coulson is to be arrested by the police for questioning about the News of the World phone hacking....still we are supposed to believe Rebekah Brooks is innocent and knew nothing about it?

Thought Ed Miliband, who I've been critical of recently, set an excellent tone in calling for a judicial enquiry and highlighting David Cameron's shocking error of judgement in hiring Andy Coulson and brining him into number 10. Apparently Cameron was warned about Coulson by both left & right but still pressed ahead with the appointment.

I did like Ed's careful call for a review that preserves the free press whilst shining a light into the murky world of journalism. He also did well to admit that New Labour were thick as thieves with Murdoch too (although not quite as personally in bed with them as David Cameron is).

The public have spoken, the politicians have listened and look like they are taking action...will the public vote with their feet and move away from the News International papers or meekly start buying the the S*n on Sunday when it arrives? Outrage and righteous indignation is one thing but if people fall into the same pattern of hanging on every word of the press then nothing will change.

News of the World disbanded, S*n goes 7 days a week

So Murdoch sends Rebekah Brooks to tell all those staff they have lost their jobs, she marched in flanked by security staff and then marched out.

Her job is safe though.

Murdoch et al must think we were born yesterday...the News of the World is gone but the urls for The Sunday Sun are already registered. I hope and pray people don't meekly ignore their outrage and switch over to this "new" publication when it inevitably arrives.

If the Tories let Rupert Murdoch take over BSkyB it will just show how under their thumb they are.

They must think we were born yesterday

New Everton home shirt revealed

Amidst all this politics and media scandal it's nice to have something sporty to think about for once. The new Everton home shirt has been revealed.

Blue socks? Not happy, nothing good will come of it. I know this is perhaps one of the most pointless posts in the blog's history but this is the only Everton news around! No signings at all whilst everyone else seems to be having a feeding frenzy. We really do need to augment the squad and get some fire-power up front if we are going to avoid the shambolic stuttering start to the season we've seen in recent years.

In other news the entire Waterloo squad is committed for next season so that is great news. If we can bring in a couple more players we should hopefully banish the spectre of the recent slide through the leagues and start to build for the future.

David Cameron, Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks & the Chipping Norton set

So what about David Cameron, Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks & "The Chipping Norton" set?

There are defining moments when a spotlight is shone into a world and all of a sudden everything is seen in brutal daylight....like the lights going up in the nightclub so everyone can see who it is they've been dancing with then trudge bleary eyed to the exit shaking their heads. Northern Rock and Lehman Brothers brought the suicidally greedy, debt-addicted bankers to their senses, the MPs expenses scandal presented us with a scandal that was beyond parody as we saw how the noses were in the troughs. This News of the World scandal may well be the a watershed for journalism but it may also be a defining moment in how politicians cosy up to the media.

This is not a party political point. Labour were almost as bad as the Conservatives (I say "almost" because Labour have had John Prescott & Alistair Campbell shouting from the rooftops about press corruption for years whilst David Cameron invited Andy Coulson into the inner sanctum when he was fresh from resigning after the original hacking scandal). The Andy Coulson appointment underlines how desperate politicians are to get on the right side of the media (and News International in particular). Reading this piece in the Telegraph makes you realise how much Cameron is thick as thieves with Rebekah Brooks & Andy Coulson

David Cameron, who has returned from Afghanistan as a profoundly damaged figure, now faces exactly such a crisis. The series of disgusting revelations concerning his friends and associates from Rupert Murdoch's News International has permanently and irrevocably damaged his reputation.

Until now it has been easy to argue that Mr Cameron was properly grounded with a decent set of values. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make that assertion any longer. He has made not one, but a long succession of chronic personal misjudgments.

He should never have employed Andy Coulson, the News of the World editor, as his director of communications. He should never have cultivated Rupert Murdoch. And – the worst mistake of all – he should never have allowed himself to become a close friend of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of the media giant News International, whose departure from that company in shame and disgrace can only be a matter of time.

It was called the Chipping Norton set, an incestuous collection of louche, affluent, power-hungry and amoral Londoners, located in and around the Prime Minister's Oxfordshire constituency. Brooks and her husband, the former racing trainer Charlie Brooks, live in a house scarcely a mile from David and Samantha Cameron's constituency home. The two couples meet frequently, and have continued to do so long after the phone hacking scandal became well known.

PR fixer Matthew Freud, married to Mr Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, is another member of this Chipping Norton set. When Mr Cameron bumped into Freud at Rebekah Brooks's wedding two years ago, he and Mr Freud greeted each other with exuberant high-fives to signal their exclusive friendship.

The Prime Minister cannot claim in defence that he was naively drawn in to this lethal circle. He was warned – many times. Shortly before the last election he was explicitly told about the company he was keeping. Alan Rusbridger – editor of The Guardian newspaper, which has performed such a wonderful service to public decency by bringing to light the shattering depravity of Mr Murdoch's newspaper empire – went to meet one of Mr Cameron's closest advisers shortly before the last election. He briefed this adviser very carefully about Mr Coulson, telling him many troubling pieces of information that could not then be put into the public domain.

Mr Rusbridger then went to see Nick Clegg, now the deputy prime minister. So Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg – the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister – knew all about Mr Coulson before last May's coalition negotiations. And yet they both paid no attention and went on to make him the Downing Street director of communications, an indiscretion that beggars belief.

So the Prime Minister is in a mess. To put the matter rather more graphically, he is in a sewer. The question is this: how does he crawl out and salvage at least some of his reputation for decency and good judgment? This is a potentially deadly moment. If the Prime Minister plays his cards wrong, his public image will change in a matter of a few days. From a popular and respected national leader, he will come to be defined by his ill-judged friendship with the Chipping Norton set. This kind of personal degradation has happened before. By the end, Harold Wilson was irreparably damaged by his friendship with dodgy businessmen such as the raincoat manufacturer Lord Kagan. The Macmillan premiership fell apart under the weight of revelation from Lord Astor's Cliveden set.

Pretty harsh stuff coming from the most staunch of the Tory press.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Bombardier decision costs 1,400 jobs

Well this is a bizarre one

What on earth is going on there? How can it possibly be the right decision to give this contract to a foreign supplier? How can it make economic sense? Aside from the actual money itself staying in the UK this represents 1,400 people who will potentially have to start drawing benefits. It is 1,400 people who will suddenly stop pay tax.

Government incompetence on a grand scale. Pathetic. Look at the quotes:

"I don't know of any procurement that's been in France or Germany that has gone to any other company other than the indigenous rail manufacturers in their countries," said Mark Young, Unite's co-ordinating officer.

Shadow business secretary John Denham and shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle have written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to review the decision.

Maria Eagle told the BBC: "I find it amazing that the Secretary of State is denying that he has the power to make any difference here. He clearly does.

"In fact, the last train contract that was let for intercity trains was reviewed twice by the Labour government towards the end of its time in office and by the new Conservative government - they made significant changes to the contract as a result of their review."

But Ms Eagle told the BBC: "I find it amazing that the Secretary of State is denying that he has the power to make any difference here. He clearly does.

"In fact, the last train contract that was let for intercity trains was reviewed twice by the Labour government towards the end of its time in office and by the new Conservative government - they made significant changes to the contract as a result of their review."

Even Vince Cable is making rumblings "There is a perception that other EU countries appear to manage their public procurement processes with a sharper focus on domestic supply than we have hitherto"

Wish the NHS a happy birthday

Got this through today :

The NHS celebrates its 63rd birthday this week, with public satisfaction at an all-time high. But the coalition government's proposals will put everyone at risk. Including you.

Don't be fooled. Even after "listening", the government's legislation would let private companies grab any part of the NHS, putting profits before patients.

Now is the time to stop them, to make sure that the NHS will still be in good shape when it's 64.

This week, we're holding all sorts of events across the country to celebrate the NHS, and make sure we continue to put patients before profit. There are also plenty of online actions that you can do to help us get the message across to our politicians.

It takes just two minutes to make your voice heard, so please help us protect the NHS for the future.

Take action now: Wish the NHS a happy birthday

Thanks for your support,

The Million Voices Campaign

P.S. Don't forget to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to add their
voices to the million voices campaign: http://million-voices.org

Boycott News International and News Corps, it can be done.

Sent this to The Times today


Unfortunately I will no longer be buying The Times due to your parent company's association with the News of the World and its actions by standing by Rebekah Brooks. I know this scandal is nothing to do with The Times and it is with a heavy heart I end my longstanding loyalty to your fine newspaper however I have no other way of protesting and voicing my utter disgust at this vile episode and the arrogance your parent company has displayed. If Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson didn't know about the phone hacking then they are two of the most incompetent people to ever grace your industry.

We shall see if anything comes back. I know it is slightly churlish and it wasn't anything to do with The Times but I have no other way to show my disgust at the actions of News Corps and News International both in the original phone hacking and their arrogant refusal to accept responsibilty for it now it's come to light.

What really makes me shudder is this tweet from Robert Peston : "News International execs tell me they fear there may have been worse examples of NOTW hacking than that of Milly Dowler's phone". Worse???

Alone my boycott of News International won't make much of a difference but ask any Scouser; these things can be done. The S*n is by far the most popular paper in the country yet on Merseyside you are as likely to see someone reading USA Today or L'Equipe. You can either meekly grumble about these things or vote with your feet. Scousers have stuck to the S*n boycott ever since Hillsborough. It can be done.

News of the World hacking Milly Dowler's phone then closing ranks

I mean this Milly Dowler phone hacking case is beyond reprehensible. Despicable only covers about 10% of the outrage and revulsion we should feel about this. For months this case has rumbled on each revelation getting more and more eyebrow raising. Personally I thought it was jaw-dropping when I found out they'd hacked a serving senior police officer's works mobile but this...

Not only did they hack into a missing girl's phone to listen in on her messages they actually deleted messages to clear space for others...this gave hope to Milly's family that she was still alive and accessing her phone. And for what? To sell a few low quality tabloid newspapers. You can see why Andy Coulson had to jump ship as Cameron's right hand man, he must have known where the investigation was going to lead. I remember Cameron's shrugged, grudging acceptance of his resignation as if to say "These silly allegations are just tittle tattle but I suppose I'll have to soldier on without him".

The PCC have had this happen on their watch and are doing very little, the police were forced into investigating after avoiding taking on the case, the politicians of the day were too afraid of the backlash to bring up the matter.

The only conclusion you can draw is that the press are a law onto themselves and basically out of control. That fact that it seems that Rebekah Brooks is going to just ignore the matter and carry on is testament to this. And yet this week News Corp are given the green light for their takeover...giving this corporation even more power and making it even more unassailable.

Something has to be done and it's clear that a voluntary code of conduct and a voluntary regulatory body aren't up to the job.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Government hiding the truth about the impact of their benefit reforms

Am amazed more isn't being made about this leaked memo outlining the true impact of coalition. If it is how it appears it's utterly appalling. That government departments are issuing private warnings about the possibilty of 40,000 families being made homeless and then ministers are telling the country the exact opposite is reprehensible.

The memo coming out of Eric Pickles' office states "Our modelling indicates that we could see an additional 20,000 homelessness acceptances as a result of the total benefit cap. This on top of the 20,000 additional acceptances already anticipated as a result of other changes to housing benefit"

This article in the Guardian outlines the way the coalition have resorted to lying whenever Labour have voiced concerns.

What makes it even more distasteful is that the government don't even think that the changes will save any money

"We are concerned the savings from this measure, currently estimated at £270million from 2014-2015, do not take account of the additional costs to local authorities through homelessness and temporary accommodation. We think it likely that the policy as it stands will generate a net cost"

This makes it clear, the changes aren't about the defecit, it is about the Tory ideology of "The devil take the hindmost". They see poverty & misery for ordinary people in this country as a price worth paying. 40,000 families are acceptable collateral damage as they slim down the state. The Lib Dems are standing by and doing nothing whilst it happens.

I hope now the media will start taking more notice when Labour highlight these fears...and I also hope Ed Miliband takes Cameron to the cleaners about this in the next PMQs, it's utterly indefensible.

Friday, July 01, 2011

June 30 Public Sector strikes. Mark Serwotka skewers Francis Maude

Don't believe the hype over yesterday's strikes. The lollipop ladies and nurses didn't cause this financial crisis so why are the government raiding their pensions? This article on New Statesman outlines exactly why these changes to the pensions are unjustified.

Just look at the graph, the pensions outlay is decreasing as a percentage of GDP. Mark Serwotka (Or "Sir Wotka" as he should be knighted) called Francis Maude to put up or shut up on the government's scaremongering and he simply couldn't. By the afternoon Maude (and his "unaffordable" mantra) had been locked in a cupboard and Danny Alexander was doing the rounds using the phrase "untenable".

So don't believe the hype over these strikes, this is just ordinary workers standing up for each other when faced with an ideological dismantling of their working conditions. Divide and Conquer is how the government will beat the ordinary people of this country into submission. They can casually say Labour are bought and paid for by the Unions (plainly nonsense given Labour's silence on the subject) but it seems to be a taboo to point out that the conservatives are bought and paid for by rich tax-dodging bankers.

The government are in disarray over this, they can't win the argument so they rely on media lapdogs, when they are put on the spot they are exposed. Listen to Francis Maude flounder and then think back to the NHS Reforms, the pitiful "bonfire of the quangos", the farce of the £9k student fees ("exceptional circumstances" anyone?).

So where is Labour on this, 1000s of members & supporters will have been on strike yesterday and ministers went out of their way to condemn to strike action as much as the government...it can't be right that the Labour party are too paralysed by fear of public opinion to make a stand on issues like this. Instead of vague allusions of sticking up for the "squeezed middle" we have to stand up and be counted in supporting and trying to protect ordinary hard-working people. Why did we let the agenda be set as loony left public sector fat-cats and their massively lucrative pensions instead of going out and saying "We will fight for public sector pensions just as much as we will fight for decent private sector provision". Unfortunately we allowed it to become "Divide and Conquer" and that's how they beat us every time.

Why are we afraid to stand up for unions, everyone knows they are on our side of the argument. Why try and be vague and mumbly about it? It is less toxic than the Tory affiliations with the bankers and tax-evaders. Again we let the media set the agenda and we are nipping around the sides. The government is there for the taking as Ed Miliband has proved 3 weeks in a row at Prime Ministers Questions...yet it falls to the likes of Serwotka, Crow and Bousted to skewer the ministers. It feels like a huge missed oportunity to show people that we are standing up for everyone rather than being afraid to stand up for anyone.