This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Setanta Blues ? TV is killing live football !

The way football is going I think we are going to see live coverage of South Devon League football soon. What next ? Maybe it'll be Upton Athletic versus Brixham Villa indoors as the clubs have no lights - all exlusively on numpty satellite channel 'Devon Sport ' ?!

My point is that TV is killing 'live' football - as 'in the flesh and at the stadium'. Already Torquay United and Exeter City  combined will be on  the box for seven live matches on the Setanta channel before Christmas, with the Gulls opener not on Saturday 11 August 3pm, but on Sunday night 7.30pm !  Sunday night for goodness sake. Obviously there's going to be a lot of visiting supporters with that kick-off time - not ! And, all this for Conference football. I'm certainly not going to call it the Blue Square Premier League., as this makes it sound even worse than it is.

Do the maths.  Four Torquay games, luckily three being away,  before the end of October. £10 subscription  for month one, which includes SPL / Dutch / Portuguese / Italian / French league football, in addition to a weekly Premiership game live versus £14-15 to go to Plainmoor for one hideously timed home game. Guess which I'm going to do ? I feel guilty, but £15 for Conference football is too much !

Worse still the Chief Executive of the 'Conference' seems reluctant to say how much the clubs will get for the live screenings. Hmm... makes me think that the deal is not that lucrative. Sadly Torquay's following for the three away games at Burton, Oxford and York will be minimal. But compare the Setanta subscription fee with the time and money needed to travel to these fixtures. Crucially, will the lack of support, especially at what appears to be difficult away contests, hamper the progress of the Gulls this season ?

For me with Celtic and Torquay being my 'other teams'  Setanta is  [somewhat selfishly] good for me, but not for the clubs and the wider game. Ironically, my first sporting love - Nottingham Forest - are only on live TV once for the 'attractive' fixture at Carlisle. League 1 and 2 of the Football League are virtually ignored unless there's no Premiership / Championship  football due to international fixtures and Sky then need a 'filler' for their Sports channels. How very strange.

It will be interesting to see Setanta's viewing figures for Conference games. Forest Green Rovers v. Salisbury City on 13 September is definitely one for your diaries !!

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Third in a two horse race !

Yes, the happy outcome in the Ealing Southall by-election.  The Tories third in a two horse race !!

Only  the Tories can stop Labour claimed 'David Cameron's' Conservatives. How wrong they were !  5 visits to the constituency from dashing 'Dave' and even his name on the ballot paper, rather than  Mr Lit being listed as just the Conservative party candidate - all to no avail. To see the knives sharpening on ConservativeHome is a guilty pleasure for sure !

Maybe, bearing in mind Tony Lit's  very recent donation to Labour he should have been listed as Conservative AND Labour candidate. After all the publicly declared differences between them seem to be narrowing all the time - he could have cleaned up !

As for Mr Iain Dale the reasoning that ES was not 'natural' Tory territory. Is he referring to the ethnic make-up of that part of  West London ? Too many  'disadvantaged' voters too ? Admittedly the Etonian vote is pretty low there [and almost everywhere else too]. Come on Iain do explain.

It seems Scotland, Wales, the northern cities and urban areas in much of the south remain not 'natural' Tory territory.  Is the 'natural territory' left enough to win a Westminster election anytime soon ?

'Dave' seems to be following recent tradition. New Tory leader makes noises about connecting with modern Britain. Modern Britain doesn't believe them for long. Enter next Tory leader ! I do think Cameron realises what he needs to do, but every time he throws scraps off the table to keep 'traditional' Tories happy he reminds everyone else  how out of touch his party - especially the wider membership-  is ! How else can you explain away the Grammar Schools and married couples' tax bribe issues ?

Overall a very good outcome for Labour well into a third term of office. My point of view is of an acceptable outcome for  the Lib Dems, especially in Sedgefield. This takes attention away from Ming's performance as leader. Whether this is a good thing or not, I'll leave you to decide. Did we do well enough though, this far into Labour's time in office and considering the poor quality of the Tory [sorry Davie C's] candidate ?

Finally a bugbear I always have with the Lib Dems ! The exaggerated claims the party frequently makes. Only the Lib Dems can stop Lab or Con winning here, sometimes even when we start from a poor third place previously ! A classic example was Duncan Borrowman yesterday claiming it was 'neck and neck' in the ES contest ! A good strategy perhaps to get more helpers for a final push as a campaign closes, but somewhat insulting to the intelligence of the voting public ! There said it - got it off my chest !


Sunday, July 01, 2007

As Tony Benn always says :

Who elected them, whose interests do they serve, who are they accountable to and how do we get rid of them ? Therein lies my problem with the following appointments to ministerial posts or advisory positions in the leadership team of Gordon Brown. All the below :

Sir Digby Jones: Trade minister
Prof Sir Ara Darzi: Health Minister, patient care
Admiral Sir Alan West: Home Office minister, security
Lord Malloch Brown: Foreign Office minister, Asia, Africa and UN
Lord Stevens: Adviser on international security issues
Lib Dem Baroness Neuberger: Volunteering
Lib Dem Lord Lester: Adviser on constitutional reform

have one thing in common - no-one elected them ! The latter two Lib Dems are only in advisory posts, but others are to be parachuted in to government via the Lords. So much for 'change'. For Tony's cronies read Gordon's gofers.

What we are seeing is the forward march of the unelected !

Yes, a Tory and even a Lib Dem administration would also draft in non-elected personnel to positions, but that doesn't make it right either.

The likes of Digby Jones hasn't even any intention of joining the Labour party. His position is that he is only accountable to Gordon Brown. Another four senior arrivals are from within those taking the Labour whip within the Lords already. Is this democracy ? Add on our flawed electoral system, the proliferation of quangos and unnecessary centralist government and we are far removed from any notion of modern liberal democracy.

As for the wider cabinet, the presence of Hazel Blears, Geoff 'Buff' Hoon and Des Browne hardly fills one with confidence. Nonetheless seeing Broon waltz past the Tories in the polls this week, allied to the Quentin Davies defection from Tories to Labour has amused this observer greatly. Not a great few weeks for 'Dave' Cameron.

Ditto, more ominously for Sir Menzies Campbell too.

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