Friday, October 12, 2007

Hostilities Resumed

England Rugby
England v France
Saturday, 8:00PM
It's less than 24 hours now before England face another huge test, in their World Cup semi-final against France. The tournament has produced too many amazing results to make any predictions with too much confidence, but I think Jackart's instincts are not too far off the mark.

Up front I'd expect England to still have the edge, though honours will be likely to be shared in the loose unlike the exhibition of the art of the turnover that the England forwards gave the Wallabies last week. The France side though has much more creativity in their back line, and the flair to score points against anyone, and they will. I doubt that twelve points will be anywhere near enough for England this time. Whether it's Wilkinson back to his metronomic best with the boot, or finding chinks in the French line for seven pointers, England needs to keep the scoreboard ticking over; I would expect France to score over 20 points even with England's defence performing well.

For most of the last year I have been saying that reaching the semi-finals would be a very respectable defence of England's 2003 title in view of their wretched build up to the event, so in one sense I'm already happy. The opportunity to play on the biggest stage of all and make the attempt to become the first team to successfully defend their crown is just one game away though, so defeat would still hurt for team and supporters alike.

In the build up to 2003 England fed off the memories of the pain of humiliating defeats on their previous visit to Australia, and the media gibes that accompanied the opening to their title bid. It's been noticeable how the tone of the French media has differed to that of the Australian press a couple of weeks ago. They have realised, as has Bernard Laporte, that England rugby teams don't get upset about mindless insults in the press, they feed off them. They bond, grow stronger and fight back.

One little battle that might be won off the pitch might be that of the crowd. I will always remember the chorus of 'Swing Low' that filled the stadium for the Australia v New Zealand semi-final in 2003, so ingenious had the vast travelling England support been in securing huge numbers of tickets to the game. Initial reports suggest that there could be a similar phenomenon tomorrow, and at the very least the advantage of the home crowd behind France should be very substantially neutralised.

It's been a pretty good week in the Village with the local Gallic contingent celebrating their own remarkable fight back alongside the English, much to the chagrin of some of the antipodean bar staff, who, at least in the case of the Australians have become universally life-long Rugby League or Aussie Rules fans. Traditional hostilities will be resumed from 8PM tomorrow.

The other semi-final is a tricky affair support-wise for me. Contrary to the famous Spitting Image song I actually do know quite a lot of nice South Africans, and their current squad seem to lack the supercilious arrogance of some of their forebears and also have the discipline to play the game within the bounds of acceptable aggression.

For all that, though the achievements of Argentina in raising their game to a new level, and raising the game's profile in a new continent cannot be overlooked. I think I will have to do it the proper English way and support the underdog.

We know you won't take a step back England, but one more painful, exhausting, but exhilarating step forward could see another remarkable chapter written into the story of this World Cup.

Those Prizes in Full

Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize Medal
Like most people I was somewhat taken aback by the latest Nobel prize announcement. So it's time to look at the complete list of winners (the Economics prize is not a real Nobel prize). I found this summary on the official prize website:

The 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg "for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance".
Looks complicated, and a quick google scan reveals that indeed it is.

The 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to Gerhard Ertl "for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces".
Very worthy I'm sure, not exactly someone chasing headlines, just doing what he does well I suspect.

The 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine goes to Mario R. Capecchi, Martin J. Evans and Oliver Smithies for their discoveries of "principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells".
Valuable work in a very promising arena for human progress.

The 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Doris Lessing "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny".
Don't know Lessing's work but she seems widely admired, and rejects most of the left-wing tags people try to attach to her.

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize goes to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr.

They didn't include any citation for Gore et al.'s award, so I'll have to fill in:

...for services to mass hysteria and scientific dishonesty as proven in a court of law, and, in having an elephantine carbon footprint, to gross hypocrisy.

I'm tired and can't be bothered hyperlinking so many other better efforts at ridiculing this ridiculous award. Follow some of the blogroll links on the's worth your effort.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Crown of Thorns
Same old rubbish
I only managed to catch a few snippets of the Barroso/Brown joint press conference, but it looks like Brown really is out of the game at the moment. This was a much safer environment for Brown, despite the subject matter, when compared to the full assault by the press core earlier in the week, or his Commons destruction, but still he seemed unsure, hesitant and distinctly not Prime Ministerial.

Daniel Hannan's blog post at the Telegraph may be taking it a little far, but it does seem as if the events of recent weeks have opened up a whole new range of psychological flaws in Brown.

Sadly the media kicking I was expecting looks unlikely to materialise, other than in the usual quarters, simply because in essence, bereft of anything useful to say, they fundamentally said nothing new at all. At least someone seems to have beaten it into Barroso's thick skull that the 'R' word is one best avoided entirely by people such as himself whose democratic legitimacy is so thin.

One thing that both failed to do in any sense whatsoever was to add even the slightest semblance of credibility to Brown's almost universally derided position.

What I heard was, frankly, incredibly dull even for someone interested in the subject, and I suspect that was the plan. For more interesting thought on matters Brown a propos the EU treaty, you'd be better off musing on Dizzy's interesting hypothetical.

It sounds quite plausible, but fundamentally it's hard to assess the likelihood of such a play, you'd need to know which Brown has in greater abundance, cowardice or a propensity to cynical opportunism and that's a damn tough call.

The Good Old Days

CWU Picket Line
A blast from the past
It's highly unusual for me to quote that renowned journal, Socialist Worker, however now I shall do it for the second time in less that a week.

Anyone who wonders whether or not the less thinking type of unionism that blighted this country for decades has been wholly eliminated by the actions of the Thatcher administration, and the merciful inaction of Blair and Brown thus far, should take a look at this gem.

Fortunately strikes such as the current postal workers' dispute and the recent shenanigans by Bob Crowe and his merry men are now sufficiently rare that for all the inconvenience and disruption they cause it is possible see such neanderthal rubbish as amusing from time to time.

I don't know why I found this particular effort so amusing, just something about the breathless style of the coverage of the posties' misguided actions, as they wreck their own job security. It finally struck me that it came over like a report in the local rag about the local soccer team's latest outing in the lower reaches of the football leagues, with a bit of Sid James 'Carry on at your convenience' style unionism as a bit of an afterthought.

Just to show you how some parts of the union movement have moved with the times:
The last day of the national postal strikes saw a fantastic spontaneous march by 100 postal workers through the centre of Ipswich chanting "What do we want? Fair pay! When do we want it? Now!".


Monday's strike saw four deliveries turned away including the weekly delivery of the canteen's food.

Source: Socialist Worker

"What do we want? X! When do we want it? Now!"...for God's sake this is the twenty-first century. Hmm, and I wonder who they will blame their empty bellies on when they finally do get back to work?

It even has the equivalent of the Opta statistics for the game, with 'shots on target' replaced with 'scab numbers'.

On a serious point, I've always despised the language of hate that fuels so much of left-wing rhetoric. As little time as I may have for the Human Rights Act, I do hope one day that a 'scab' takes legal action under it against one of the old-school unions - there seems to be ample cause.

For now, the CWU's campaign to destroy their member's job security Scargill-style continues unabated. Postal services across the continent face a very uncertain future, thanks to the CWU the Royal Mail faces probably the future with even less confidence than their European counterparts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bad Timing

Brown and Barroso
Prats from the same pod
McStalin desperately needs something that will allow him at least the semblance of a fight back against Cameron's resurgent team. Some kind of big name visiting Number 10 would help. Mandela, Sarko, Merkel, Putin, even George W. would probably help restore some force to the great clunking fist and give Gordon a break from his now daily diet of domestic humiliation and allow him to play statesman for a day. Unfortunately for the dour one, the Prime Minister's next big public engagement is with Manuel Barroso, the ever unpopular president of the largely despised European Commission.

If you want to restore trust in your premiership, who worse could you go into conclave with than one of the few people more generally distrusted than yourself?

As someone who does not especially like, to put it mildly, Gordon Brown, the knowledge that he goes to bed knowing that there is no remotely likely positive outcome from this meeting that will leave him anything other than more damaged than his is already suits me just fine.

The meeting will, as we all know, be focussed on how to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of this country, rather than looking for positive outcomes for the UK, or for that case the EU. They could show true grit by coming to the decision that the only way to get the British people to support their decisions is to involve them, in the form of a referendum. That though would require courage and vision, qualities that it is becoming increasingly obvious that both are pretty much completely devoid of.

They will stand outside Number 10 and praise each other. Barroso will tell us all that Gordon has skilfully negotiated some fantastic red lines, Gordon will tell us how different the reform treaty is from the proposed constitution. They will join in unison on the key point, that the British people must never, ever be allowed to let their opinion on the veracity of their statements be properly heard.

They will beam, and smile and indulge in mutual congratulation. There is though, one little fly in the ointment. The majority of people in this country don't believe a single word they say.

I suspect that even Brown's closest friends wish it was anyone but Barroso lined up for Thursday. His now open hatred for anyone but the elites having a say in how we shall be governed will be a huge problem for a media team looking for the slightest glimmer of a good headline, when even members of the grim one's own party are openly questioning the truth of their leader's own vacuous assertions on the reform treaty.

This time tomorrow I'm pretty sure Brown will be back on the floor receiving the kicking he deserves, or at the very least skulking in private ignominy behind closed doors as wee Millibore takes it on behalf of his weak boss.

Brown will be back in his corner now, the blood washed away from his multiple knock-downs in the last few rounds, but it's far from over. Things can only get worse Brown.

Traditional Entertainments

Back to basics
So it's back to school, and back to the same old games. There have been a couple good live blogs today covering the return of PMQs. It says something for the renewed interest in matters political in the aftermath of the non existent general election that the sound was turned up in the pub in the Surrey hills where I was grabbing some lunch, to hear the dour one receive, what seemed by common consent, his well deserved kicking.

Most media reaction seems to have been that Cameron scored some points, but the invitation by Bob Neill for Brown to visit a bottle bank in his constituency seems to be the most widely quoted jibe. There were the inevitable sufferers of leftism who seem to have been watching a different contest, especially among those commenting over at Political Betting, but in reality Brown would know he had lost this round before he rose to the dispatch box. To be fair, Brown had managed to improve his PMQs outings after his poor debut, but right at the moment he looks as if he is back to square one.

It was a pretty effective line by Cameron, though as Shane Greer's live blog points out, there were possibly a couple of easy punches that were spurned.

Despite enjoying the performance, and being personally happy to see Brown getting beaten up like this on a weekly basis, I do think it's maybe time to move on now for Cameron and rise above this line. The areas of the media that are normally somewhat hostile, but gave Cameron a fair hearing over the conference season, did so, as far as I can see, largely because of the power of the way arguments were put over, not least by Cameron himself, and because a positive agenda was being put forward.

PMQs is obviously not the best forum for advancing opposition policies, and it is there mainly as an opportunity to bring the spotlight on the failings of government policy and its actions. That said, it can be done in a way that seems considered and statesmanlike, and too many knockabout sessions like this may distract the media's attention for more positive Conservative developments.

In the end, the 'bottling' lines will start to wear thin, as even the best of jokes do through over telling. They are still a nice jab to be landed now and again, but any collection of half-articulate back benchers high enough up the PMQs batting order would be more capable of keeping this particular wound open.

To continually look for fresh lines of attack, or even wrong-footing lines of support must be the way forward for Cameron.

The Prime Minister is, without doubt, a very intelligent man, but that is not the same as being a quick thinker on his feet, as his first PMQs outing showed. Give him enough time on one topic and he will find a way to spin himself out of trouble, even on occasion within a single session. I prefer the approach where the leader of opposition's questions are split across two or more distinct subjects, tackled with a varying delivery from outright hostility, to constructive criticism, as it denies the Prime Minister the chance to build up a head of steam and move the debate on to ground that is more fertile for spin.

Still, it was entertaining to see a return of Punch and Judy politics, even if I hope it is only temporary, and as someone generally, even increasingly sympathetic to the Cameron cause, it was good to see who clearly held the big stick.

Moving on

It's been a fantastic week for those of us who love rugby, English (or for that matter French) rugby, especially if you can combine it with a deep and abiding distrust of the alleged capabilities of the waste of time and opportunity that currently occupies 10 Downing Street.

It's been fun, but it's time to move on. The biggest joke in the world (whom the Labour machinery will have to carry through the next few weeks and months) can get tedious after sufficient repetition, so it is time to put the easy gibes behind and get stuck into the lack of substance of the man.

There is a vast anaemic underbelly of thought in the NuLabour project that the country is waking up to, and is worth greater effort than picking over the current bones.

For all that though it's been a good week for anyone who distrusts Team Brown, so even though 95% of you have already seen it, let's leave it on a high, with what I understand to be Will Howells' efforts (H/T: Just about everyone):

Hope you enjoyed the honeymoon Gordon, that is as good as it will ever get, and it's over.

Things can only get worse.

Update: Yes, this time I mean it, I think...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Question of Image

George Osborne
Not quite the finished article
I'd got half way through writing up my thoughts on the CSR/PBR in the commons today before an urgent call to action left it half-complete, but as far as I'm concerned Shane Greer has summed it up pretty well.

George Osborne performed pretty well today, but if I didn't follow these things as closely as I do I'd have to award the trophy, with as much enthusiasm as John Howard handed over the 2003 Rugby World Cup to Martin Johnson, to Darling. Macroeconomic announcements are my Achilles heel. I understand them after time and consideration, and the fundamentals are not that hard to grapple with, but in the few minutes at the dispatch box statements like these are the political equivalent of a skid-pan, being so easy to spin.

Osbourne did nothing wrong whatsoever. His positions, as far as I'm concerned with a a few hours' consideration were correct. In many ways his rhetoric was better, but overall, to be perfectly honest Darling did a better job. If I knew nothing outside that one debate I would have seen a strong governing party and a weak opposition grasping at straws. This is not the case, and initial media reaction seems to indicate the magnitude of Brown's cock up is coming home to roost in reactions to the exchanges, but this is not something that can be relied on to continue.

Greer highlights the key issues. I might take issue with the prominence of who sits near the main speaker; the management of front bench seating arrangements has always seemed a bit 'plastic' to me from NuLab, but then I watch probably more than a hundred times more Commons' coverage than most even being unattached to any party machinery, and I accept the fact that I am atypical.

On Osborne, in my opinion Shane is spot on. It was a very good performance in so many ways, yet for someone who is the closest in age to myself in the shadow cabinet he seemed young beyond his years. Yet he is good and spoke sense, and he should not be replaced on these trivial grounds. The Conservatives should not allow his opponents to do a 'Hague' on him, and allow minuscule issues of presentation to damage the public image of someone who has so much to offer.

I don't like the spin and image making, but the correlation that Shane makes about what Thatcher did presentation-wise is very apt. Thatcher took a few gibes from the voice coaching, but the overall effect was a huge win. I hate to say it, and for me Osborne is doing a good job as he is, but then it's not me he's selling to.

There are, in some small ways, issues of presentation where the Conservatives need to hold their nose and follow the concensus. For me, this is one.

My Enemy's Enemy is...

Moron shall speak unto moron
Socialist Worker -
Moron shall speak unto moron
...still a complete and utter waste of oxygen, and a source of much CO2 that we could well dispense with.

If there was ever to be an award for the most ironically named newspaper or periodical, the only significant challenger to the Independent would be Socialist Worker. I guess 'Socialist Striker' or 'Socialist Layabout' would have been a little too frank - has anyone ever seen a 'horny handed son of toil' selling this pathetic rag? Assuming that is that the 'horny handed' bit refers to hard graft rather than what they do once they have picked up cash for the fortnight courtesy of those who actually,

I would never claim this band of losers as unlikely bedfellows, but for all of that it was amusing to see their headline over the postal strike:
Strikers tell Brown: ‘We won’t bottle it’

Alan Walsh, branch secretary, Watford CWU

Source: Socialist Worker

It's good to see them taking the Conservative whip on attitudes to our loathsome Prime Minister.

It's good to see unity in the country, to have united left, right, and centre, including now the extreme left, and I suspect (though I have no intention of going to look) the extreme right, in universal derision is a pretty special achievement for Broon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Measures of Success

Gordon Brown
Something else to ponder?
Oddly enough I was out and about in the Village a lot of the weekend. In amongst the boozed-up rugby watching there was actually a degree of serious political debate until we found out that Brown had wussed out.

I say serious, but I soon understood why politics and religion are subjects allegedly best kept out of the pub, when a friend who up to this point I had always assumed to be an intelligent person, declared that Neil Kinnock was, and I quote, "the best Prime Minister this country never had". So much for in vino veritas.

Inevitably predictions were called for on the likely outcome of a snap election. While I wished it were different, the best outcome I could back with any reasonable level of hope of it coming to pass was a very substantially reduced, but probably just about workable, Labour overall majority.

It's, all academic now, but it was interesting to consider what a 'workable majority' for Gordon Brown would have been. Conventionally figures of around 15-20 get bandied about, but I feel his target, even regardless of image problems, would have been much higher. For one simple reason; Scotland.

I've got absolutely no issue with Gordon Brown being Scottish whatsoever. The imbalances in public spending do not concern be greatly, reflecting as they do in the most part, real issues of need. The West Lothian Question is a more significant issue, being as it is at heart, one of fairness.

With the Conservatives securing a plurality of the vote in England in 2005, the prospects of this turning into a plurality, at least, of seats in England must have been a very real risk. Add in the fact that for all the best of SNP efforts that Brown would still have retained a significant portion of his 39 Scottish seats, Labour voting being at least as tribal north of the border as it is south of it, life could have got very difficult for Brown.

Blair managed, more or less, to avoid genuinely needing Scottish votes to secure the passage of English, or English and Welsh only measures. The few times this may have statistically have seemed to be the case it was possible to show that it would have been possible to whip it though without these votes being necessary.

To be seen to be passing such legislation on nearly every occasion with the votes of Scottish MPs whose constituents were unaffected by it would create an outcry, and on each occasion it happened the same clunking fist of political reality would land fair and square in the middle of Brown's ugly face.

With the effect of boundary changes, and a general improvement in Tory fortunes, it's actually very difficult to see how a Brown government would be able to function with much less of a majority than their current 68 were the Conservatives to make any further progress in England whatsoever.

It might seem strange to post on something that is now somewhat of a counter-factual effort, but I think it underlines how badly Brown has played his hand recently. There have just been a few short weeks when the polls suggested a similar or enhanced Labour majority, and without this level of support, a Labour government could end up in a self-destructive nightmare of it's own making.

If the Conservatives manage to avoid another bout of infighting then I've got a feeling that it's still going to be a tough decision for Brown even if he does put it off until 2009.

I've got a feeling the events of the last week or two will weigh very heavily on Brown long after the media have finally moved on.

Cheers Gordon!

Gordon Brown
No bounce back for Brown
I've finally managed to watch a re-run of Gordon's press conference today, having only been able to half-listen to it early on.

I suppose I should give the man some credit for bravery in facing a press pack who he has so completely mishandled in recent days.

That said, I've got a feeling he was backing some innate talent he believed would allow him to use the occasion to begin a fight back. If this is the case, he clearly does not possess the ability he thought he had.

Content-wise, there's very little to add to Iain Dale's live blogging, and Dizzy's similar efforts.

What struck me though was the body language, especially in the pauses between questions, presumably as the microphone was repositioned. He twitched, he fidgeted, he grimaced, and gurned, he scratched his head and god knows where else behind the lectern. It's hardly unfamiliar behaviour from Brown, but this was unusually intense and continuous.

I'm no expert on body language but he looked to be a very nervous man, becoming less and less sure of himself as the questions rained in, and the when he had the chance to make a well practised line of support for England's efforts in the rugby seemed to bring a very real sense of relief.

So why do I raise a glass to Gordon?

OK, I didn't predict the excuse Brown would use for his election climbdown, but my gut instinct on the no autumn election was finally justified.

It's not that it's saved me a diet of chapeau a l'orange for the coming week, but I managed to get £20 on a January-June 2009 general election on Betfair at a little better than 7 to 1. OK, I didn't quite catch that market at its peak, but it's a damn sight better than the little better than even money you can get now. Coupled with a smaller punt on the second half of 2009 at even better odds for insurance, I've got high hopes of finally screwing some money out of the miserable bastard.

Thanks Mr Brown!

Update 8:00PM:
I watched the Iraq announcement and debate earlier and felt I should add a comment. To be fair, Brown seemed a bit more comfortable on this ground. Cameron needs to be careful not to be seen to be playing too much politics with the issue himself. As I've posted before, I don't buy into the 'too old' line for Ming, but I thought his was a fairly tired performance on a subject that should be meat and drink.

Benn who followed on Foot and Mouth was bloody awful, robotic and dithery - needs some hints from dad. You could accuse some of the Conservative interventions of being opportunistic, but with such a poor ministerial performance they simply seemed like a party in the ascendancy.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rational Environmentalism

How to vote blue to go green?
As someone who is often critical of BBC national radio news and current affairs output, it is a rare pleasure to recommend something to listen to, still available on the 'Listen Again' service.

It has been a busy weekend, both politically and on the Rugby front, but I did pause in my preparations for England's game yesterday when I heard something on the radio that actually made sense, and made a note to listen to the programme in full today.

Yesterday's 'Talking Politics' on Radio 4 was the last of the current season as normal Westminster service resumes, and tackled the thorny questions around climate change, but not from the normal dogmatic BBC position. It does appear that on this subject at least, some semblance of impartiality has returned.

The 'Listen Again' archive for the show is here and it can also be downloaded as an MP3 podcast here.

The programme features an interview with “Sceptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, in which he makes his case in a concise, powerful and highly convincing manner. For those who don't know Lomborg's line on how even if you accept man made climate change as fact, that currently approaches to dealing with it are backwards looking and come at an unacceptable human cost, I would suggest you take a listen. For those already au fait with the Lomborg manifesto there are a couple of nice digs at Al Gore to enjoy.

Focus group guru, Frank Luntz, has some fascinating insights in to green issues from a Conservative perspective. He looks at how David Cameron can take the popularity boost that his espousment of green politics has given himself and the party, and look to move from this to truly effective policy without relying on the current 'tax and punish' thinking that dominates the mindset of environmentalists of different political hues.

Finally the panel discussion features Fraser Nelson of The Spectator, Peter Hitchens, who, I'm sure purely by accident, makes the occasional constructive contribution, and they even manage to find a Green party spokesperson, Jenny Jones, who seems to be some distance from the flat-earth, anti-human wing of her party.

I'm not all that interested in green politics most of the time. As I've posted before, I have a deep distrust of some of the green lobby's policy of non-debate on the science of climate change. Another source of scepticism comes from my memories of being told in high school that we had to conserve fossil fuels as they would run out in the first decade of the 20th century. Except of course, they haven't, and we have found massive new reserves and technologies to exploit them. I can't help feeling that the emergence of a new problem, requiring exactly the same solutions once the old argument lost its potency was just a little too convenient.

I buy more into the arguments about security of energy supply, but I guess this is a harder line to push. If you ask the man in the street if he's worried that his gas bill is kept down only by buying from a sometimes hostile Russia, he'll shrug his shoulders and say 'so what?'; ditto petrol from the Middle East. A nice little story line about the end of life on Earth as we know it is a much easier message to infiltrate into the public's consciousness.

Like some of the comment in the programme, I did like the subtle shift of Tory green policy, putting it under the general 'security' banner.

For all my general scepticism, I did enjoy this show. Many of the points put forward would apply equally to tackling security of energy supply, and the moral case that we should tackle other global problems of higher priority first was very powerful.

For once, well done the BBC.

Competition Corner


It's time to liven things up with a little competition, and the name of the game is 'spot the odd one out'.

I have, completely at random, selected three team captains who have recently choked badly on the public stage. While two of them can hold their heads high, having proved to the world, time and time again, that they are amongst the all-time greatest at what they do, and are held in universally high regard amongst their peers, friend and foe alike, the other is slimy piece of sh** who cannot escape the reality that it is not simply the case that their team underperformed on the night, but that their captaincy is now a major issue.

So, from the pictures above, who is the lying little toe-rag? Who is the self-important toad who has had the worst week of all? Who is the weakest link?

(Hint: Stirling Morlock and Richie McCaw have not had a good night, but they are bloody good rugby players who have not, to my knowledge, destroyed their country's pension systems, or demonstrated cowardice beyond the call of duty in the face of the enemy. Nor have they themselves spent the last two weeks playing silly playground games.)

(Apologies for another post on the same theme...but there's been precious little to enjoy on this front since 2003!)

News Round-up

This (or rather yesterday) has been a very good day, so as much as I hate tabloid (or even quality) headlines normally, they need to be appreciated:

To be impartial I will start with the Guardian:

Jonny kicks Aussies where it hurts
Ohhhh and are they hurting tonight

From Sky, just to show some originality:

Jonny Kicks Aussies Where It Hurts - Again
Actually I'm pretty sure Wilkinson would 'fess up to not having a great game; the name Sky were searching for on Google is Sheridan, or, to be honest anyone up front other than penalty-factory Worsley.

As usual New York Times comment takes time to reach us:

Two Shiite Leaders in Iraq Reach a Peace Agreement
No, there is only one Gordon Brown, but I'm still amazed he could broker a peace agreement, even with himself when he had so many other fibs to tell.

Only one headline spoilt the weekend, from the Guardian:

Mugabe can attend summit, says Merkel
Sarko good, Merkel bad, it's what my instincts still say and this is the sort of dross I expected.

It doesn't matter what colour rosette you might identify with, right is right, wrong is wrong, and Merkel is someone best avoided. David Cameron should restore his former distance.

It's the image that sticks in the mind, and Sky are just following the pack:

'Weak' Brown Rules Out Early Election
The single quotes don't mitigate the image of a second rate strategist that has been left in the public's mind

Back to home ground, to the Telegraph that I grew up with:

BBC head 'refused to sign resignation'
I feel some sympathy. As a wholly owned subsidiary of the governing party you really are entitled to expect that the same rules about resigning when you do a bad job should apply to you too.

But for sheer chutzpah, for me the strapline of the day has to go the Sydney Morning Herald with its headline on the All Blicks:

You've got to choking!
Well, at least it will probably environmentally sound for the ABs to share a plane with the Wallabies as far as Singapore.

For the avoidance of all doubt, the writer of this blog reserves his rights to make ample use of the word 'choking' in reference to the All Blacks and Wallabies for at least four more years, and, in the case of Gordon Brown, for the probably more limited time he remains Prime Minister.