Get rid of May, let Rees-Mogg run

More trouble for Theresa May:

Priti Patel’s future in Theresa May’s cabinet is uncertain after new information emerged about two further meetings with Israeli officials.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said her departure seems “almost inevitable now”.

The international development secretary apologised for an unauthorised meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in August, while on a family holiday.

The first thing May needs to do is fire Patel this morning and not replace her: why Britain needs an international development secretary I don’t know. Overseas aid goes mainly on enriching those who own Audi and Mercedes dealerships in kleptocratic third-world shitholes, and the entire department should be closed down without delay. Whatever slivers of worthwhile activity got performed under Patel’s supervision can be handed to the Foreign Office, where it belongs.

I must say, I’m finding this self-destruction of the Tories quite amusing. They really are good at it, aren’t they? A year or so ago they were sitting pretty with a hefty majority with no credible opposition and all by themselves they’ve descended into a bickering, squabbling, undisciplined rabble lacking a majority. However you cut it, that’s pretty impressive, even for the Tories.

Of course, this is what happens when you put a clueless authoritarian like May in charge. I confess, I initially had some hopes she’d turn out all right but I didn’t know her personally and was not involved in her being made head of the party, so don’t blame me. Now she’s been Prime Minister a while it’s blatantly obvious she is miles out of her depth and lacks any of the personal or organisational skills to manage a cabinet, let alone run a country. The senior Tories must be held accountable for this: to apply a phrase from the Harvey Weinstein fallout to May’s character and incompetence “everybody knew”, and Corbyn’s polling suggests the public are doing just that.

So May has to go, but nobody knows when or who will replace her. Several people have suggested Amber Rudd, but she is basically May without the charm, personality, wit, humour, and respect for individual liberty. If May goes and Rudd gets in, I reckon I’ll go home and vote for Corbyn just so the Tories learn the lesson of their stupidity good and hard.

The trouble is, political parties are experiencing the same problems most large organisations are. They’ve become obsessed with identity politics, shoving all sorts of unsuitable people up the ranks based on their skin colour, religion, or sex and rewarded blinding loyalty and conformity over competence, ability, and principle. Bright young sycophants have been encourage to join up and those who show sufficient deference to the hierarchy and time their backstabbing to perfection are propelled into cabinet or shadow positions having never held a position of any real responsibility or accountability their entire lives. What we’re seeing in British politics is simply a subset of modern human resource management in large organisations. What did we think would happen?

Personally, I’d like to see May booted out and Jacob Rees-Mogg take over the leadership and call for a General Election next spring. Sure, people would go into absolute meltdown over Rees-Mogg but I’d like to see him run anyway and put his candidacy to a vote of the people rather than the chattering classes who thought Blair was a good Prime Minister or Corbyn isn’t that bad. I reckon there’s a good chance he’d win despite the squawking from the media and government employees, and even if he didn’t I think it’s important the country at least gets asked the question. Nobody thought Trump would win and everyone wanted Hillary, right up until they actually got asked.

So let Rees-Mogg run, and see what happens. If he’s voted in, good. If not, at least the electorate can’t complain when Corbyn or a Cameron-Blair II gets in and the state of British politics sinks even lower.

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A Profile of a Modern British Man

At the back end of last week, fellow blogger JuliaM and I had some fun responding to this set of Tweets (you can read the whole thing here if you wish). I might be being a bit unfair picking on this chap in particular, but I do so because he’s indicative of a much wider problem. It starts with him complaining about the mess which is Universal Credit. That part I can well believe – it is a government-run scheme after all – but it’s the underlying story that is more interesting.

Where to begin? Firstly, I don’t know much about Aspergers and depression, so I can’t say whether these are real and serious impediments to getting a job or he’s just being a fanny. What I have noticed is that these afflictions seem to be rather prevalent among middle-class lefty political commentators; if people working on construction projects around the world suffer similarly, they generally don’t mention it. And I’ll note these disabilities didn’t seem to stop him getting a degree. As for anxiety? Well, that’s an unfortunate side effect of being alive.

Secondly, he’s only now finding out that a BA Honours Degree in Media Writing is worthless. He says his degree is appropriate for certain fields and in the same sentence says these fields actually require different degrees. He’s also only just finding out that media and journalism are difficult fields to break into. It sounds to me as though he didn’t bother doing proper research into what fields he wanted to work in, what the entry requirements are, and what the demand for such work is.

Note that he is calling himself a freelance writer. He complains most potential employers want experience. This chap is 25 and appears to have no relevant experience he can show an employer, which raises the question: what they hell has he been doing between 18-25? If he wanted to be a freelance writer, he should have got out there and done some freelance writing. Does he have a blog? Has he done any freebies to get his name about? Or is he just expecting to turn up in a job aged 25 with no experience on the basis of a worthless degree.

Also, if you suffer from depression and anxiety, is freelance writing a wise career choice? Freelance anything looks pretty stressful, particularly writing. “Freelance work dried up”? Was there any to begin with?

Then we have the idea that retail, customer service, and bar work are jobs university graduates take as they “break into their careers”. Well, back in my day these were jobs you did while you were at university. Nobody “breaks into their careers” doing bar work, unless you want to be a barman. It seems as though this chap, at age 25, has never held a job of any sort in his life. Now this might be due to his Aspergers, but the fact he seems unaware that students are (or were) expected to work in the holidays suggests that’s not the only factor in play here. The benefit of crappy student jobs is not just the beer money, it also gives you the beginnings of a CV. My first job was as a teenager scrabbling around on a farm. The farmer wrote me a reference when I got a formal summer job on a different farm. That farm’s manager gave me a reference when I applied for a job at Toys R Us a few months later. Flogging toys has little to do with picking cabbages and driving tractors, but when you’re 19 a letter from an adult confirming you can turn up on time and not steal anything is invaluable. My first proper job after university (aged 23) was something like the 6th or 7th job I’d held. If you’re 25 and trying to get your first job of any kind – well yeah, you’re going to struggle.

Here’s an anecdote for you. When I was working in Dubai I was in a crap job going nowhere on pretty rubbish pay. I desperately wanted to work in Russia and started applying for jobs elsewhere. I reckon over the course of a year I applied to something like 100-120 jobs, most of which I was suitable for. I got replies to about 3 or 4 of them; all but one said “no thanks”. The rest simply ignored me. But the one who replied interviewed me and gave me the job in Sakhalin which launched what passes for my career. As someone once said to me, you have to be in love with the word “no”. And as someone else said to me, you only need one job. Eventually something will come up, but if you start feeling sorry for yourself and “unable to go anywhere or do anything” you’re giving employers a clear warning of what sort of person you are.

Of course, it doesn’t surprise me he’s still living with his parents. Had “rent been an issue” he’d have got himself a job come hell or high water, instead of moping about the place complaining nobody will give him a freelance writer’s job. Yes, rent is expensive which is why most people – even engineering graduates working decent jobs – house-share for a while. No doubt this guy’s Aspergers prevents that, too.

Welcome to the world of work, son.

Awful hours? Sorry, what else were you doing with your time? You’re complaining about not having a job, yet turning your nose up at warehouse work? Why, because it’s beneath a nice, middle-class boy with a BA in Media Writing? See, if you’d taken that warehouse job while you were at university you’d be a floor manager with a forklift licence by now, and if you worked nights you’d be on double-pay able to do all your writing bollocks in the quiet periods. And yes, entry-level pay is awful – although it’s still minimum wage. The idea is you show your employer you’re worth something and move up the ladder. Why didn’t his father tell him all this years ago?

So our poor, suffering friend here wants a cushy writing gig because mundane jobs will cause him to go into meltdown?

At this point both Julia and I have heard enough:

What was interesting is how many commenters expressed sympathy with the guy rather than telling him to buck his ideas up and stop moaning. A number took issue with Julia and I, admonishing us for not being supportive to Mr Johnson.

Does everyone remember that post I wrote back in summer about modern parenting methods? Well, this is the result, folks.

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Not every genius aspires to Oxbridge

Once again Oxford and Cambridge universities are being raked over the coals for not being inclusive enough, this time by race-baiting MP David Lammy.

One of the things which annoys me about these articles, and the fake outrage that underpins them, is the casual assumption that the pinnacle of everyone’s dreams is to go to Oxford or Cambridge. The idea that some extremely bright and talented people might not want to go to either isn’t entertained. As someone commented at Mr Worstall’s:

That’s the thing though isn’t it – people wanting to get in to a different university by choice. Where friends are going, where they liked on a visit, where a particular course is being run, where particular lecturers are based, where particular employers are based. Or simply not far from part of the family.

Back in December I wrote a post about my alma mater, Manchester, and mentioned a fellow engineering student:

She went by the name of Wendy and came from somewhere near Nottingham, and she was probably the cleverest person I’ve ever met anywhere, one of those extraordinarily gifted people who just turn up out of nowhere.  I think she completed her four year course with an average mark across all subjects of around 90%, and won every damned prize going in the engineering school such that even after her second year her name graced most of the plaques in the foyer.  I remember her sitting a 2-hour engineering maths exam and walking out at the earliest opportunity, which was 30 minutes.  She told me she’d finished after 20 minutes and that included checking.  She got 100%.  She was also a Grade 8 at piano and clarinet.

She was one of those freaks who could have waltzed into Oxford or Cambridge. Indeed, she even went to the open day at Cambridge so it’s not like she wasn’t aware of her options. But she came away not liking what she saw. She grew up in a rough town, raised by her mother (a nurse) after her father disowned her at birth. Posh she wasn’t, and she found the atmosphere at Cambridge not much to her liking. She was particularly unimpressed when someone started rabbiting on about house activities and how they could be restricted for poor behaviour (or something), and decided she’d rather study somewhere she could fit in better. That’s not to say she was critical of Cambridge, she just realised she’d be a lot happier in Manchester (where she slotted straight in). I don’t know how typical her case was, but she represented someone from a poor background who could have gone to Cambridge but simply chose not to. The idea that everyone should aspire to go to Oxford or Cambridge, and those who don’t make it are somehow missing out, is absolute bollocks.

I should add, there is no chip on my shoulder about Oxford or Cambridge either. Consider this nested comment, again from Mr Worstall’s:

“Oxbridge is hard. Really fucking hard. After a soft half-term to allow students with various A-levels to catch up, the pace of acceleration is breathtaking, and they never ever pause to allow students to catch up. You have to do it all on your own.”

A soft half-term? Are you joking? In weeks 1 and 2 we did the whole of A-level further maths! Something like 4 or 8 lectures and 2 tutorials to catch up 2 years for those who’d not done it! It was a rude awakening, I can tell you. Your feet didn’t touch the ground for 9 weeks upon arrival (the 8 week terms thing is a bit of a myth – there’s 0th and 9th weeks too, and if you’re unlucky, 10th week.).

I’d have lasted for about an hour in an environment like that. I found the maths at Manchester hard, and scraped my degree with a 2:1 thanks to a very strong industrial placement in my final year (being practical and goal-driven counts for a lot in a small company).

So yeah, Oxford and Cambridge are definitely for the brightest among us, but that doesn’t mean the brightest automatically aspire to either.

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What Passes for Journalism

Two examples of shoddy journalism that irked me.

The first, described on Twitter as being an example of “Tory values”:

In a bid to crack down on so-called ‘health tourism’, 20 NHS trusts across the country have taken part in a government pilot scheme to trial identity checks for patients. The results of the pilots are due to be published later this year, but doctors, patients and health organisations have spoken to Politics.co.uk to raise serious concerns about the impact they have had.

“One of the worst cases involved a pregnant French woman who was of Asian descent,” one doctor says. “She arrived for a routine scan and was asked by reception staff if she was eligible for free care. She told them that she was French and had never needed to provide ID before. The receptionist told her that she didn’t ‘seem French’ and called the Paying Patients department to question her further.

“The woman was so upset by what was happening that she had a panic attack. I was called to check her over. I had to tell the Paying Patients department to leave the room because they had upset her so much.”

Sorry, but this doesn’t pass the smell test. Firstly, French people habitually carry ID with them everywhere and I doubt it’s a habit they ditch when they move to the UK unless they’ve been there many, many years. And to access the healthcare system in France they need to produce a separate carte vitale, which most French people carry in their wallets alongside their ID. It is therefore highly unlikely a pregnant French woman went to a hospital expecting treatment without bringing some form of ID. It is even less likely she had a panic attack on being asked for some.

Secondly, I have a hard time believing a hospital receptionist said she didn’t “seem French”: this isn’t the 1970s, and even the NHS would have given their receptionists some rudimentary training as to how to deal with those without ID. According to the journalist who wrote it, the doctor witnessed the whole thing – yet later she says he or she was “called to check her over”. Did the doctor stand idly by as this woman went into a panic attack, waiting to be called over? And who called her? Or was she actually out of earshot when the “didn’t seem French” remark was made (which I suspect is more likely) in which case who are we relying on for the quote?

This whole thing looks to me like an embellished story fed to a gullible reporter by an anonymous doctor who doesn’t like the policy. As a piece of journalism, it fails to establish key details of the story and doesn’t make sense even on a superficial level.

The BBC, reporting on the withdrawal of subsidies to health insurance companies, doesn’t do much better:

US President Donald Trump will end subsidies to health insurance providers designed to help low income households, as he continues his attempts to dismantle Obamacare.

The White House announced the move hours after Mr Trump signed an executive order allowing the sale of health insurance plans which are exempt from some of the law’s regulations.

The announcements come after Congress repeatedly failed to repeal Obamacare.

They were instantly criticised.

Democratic Party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement denouncing the end of subsidies as a “spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage” which would harm the poorest citizens.

Meanwhile, critics of the initial announcement argued it could de-stabilise the Obamacare market by encouraging healthy consumers to leave their current plans, prompting a spike in premium costs for older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.

According to a statement from the White House, the subsidies, which run into billions each year, were not legal.

This might come as a surprise to the BBC, but rulings on legality are not made in the White House but in courts. As the Washington Post reported last August:

Republicans have long protested the payments, and in late 2014 the GOP-led House filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration, contending that the subsidies were unconstitutional because Congress had not made a specific appropriation for them. Last year a federal district court ruled in the House’s favor, and the Obama administration appealed the case to the D.C. Circuit.

All Trump has done is stop the appeal. The illegality of the payments is therefore not a matter of a White House statement, implying its merely Trump’s opinion, but something ruled upon by a federal court. It’s yet another example of Obama deciding to do things on his own without consulting Congress, as he was constitutionally obliged to do. Not that you’d know that if you relied on the BBC for information.

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May in a Nutshell

From the BBC:

Security at future Conservative events is to be reviewed after a comedian was able to get within yards of the prime minister and hand her a mock P45 redundancy notice.

Prankster Simon Brodkin – also known as his TV persona Lee Nelson – was arrested by Greater Manchester Police after briefly interrupting the PM and giving her a sheaf of paper he claimed was from Boris Johnson.

He was later released, with the police saying he had “legitimate accreditation” to attend the event.

Here’s a pic:

You know what grates most about this? Theresa May is one of those authoritarian busybodies who constantly demands extra powers to snoop on our electronic communications and wants to micromanage every aspect of our lives in the name of security…yet she heads an organisation that can’t even manage the simple task of vetting attendees at her own speech and chucking out a troublemaker.

Why is it that those who profess to know what’s best for us, and want to tell us what to do every five minutes, are so utterly incompetent themselves? The sooner the Conservatives ditch May, the better. What a useless woman.

(The stunt itself was about as lame as it gets. This is British comedy in 2017.)

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High-Flyers in Modern Organisations

This is an interesting article:

Senior cop Maggie Blyth is set to take command of all officers in Portsmouth – despite having only put on a uniform a year ago.

As the city’s district commander, she will be leading scores of officers who have climbed their way up the ranks and garnered years of experience on the beat.

Uh-huh.

Yet Supt Blyth only made her first arrest in the last few months after being handpicked for what’s known as the direct-entry scheme.

Ah.

Since putting on the uniform, she has been getting ‘full exposure’ to the streets of Portsmouth, making arrests at alcohol-fuelled violence and tackling anti-social behaviour.

A veritable baptism of fire.

Supt Blyth became a warranted officer in November last year, after a tough six-month process to get on the course between February and September last year.

Tough, eh? We’ll revisit that in a minute.

Transformed from a civilian to warranted officer in about a year, Supt Blyth knew she would be facing questions over her credibility, even though she has decades of experience in the criminal justice system.

‘During that time I had a lot of questions, I think first and foremost was credibility,’ she told The News.

Indeed. So how did she respond to these questions over her credibility?

‘Policing is very much based on working your way up through the ranks. I knew I would be managing a workforce that had never had a senior manager who had not come through the ranks.

Right, but how did you convince them you were the right person for the job?

‘A lot of the six months was taking to the police officers and other professionals about what the concerns would be.

That took six months? Finding out what might concern rank and file police officers when their chief is a complete greenhorn? A few paragraphs before we were told this was a tough course. It sounds more like a talking shop.

‘I came on quite prepared for the good and the bad for what I might find.

And what did you find?

‘I went in with my eyes open – and I must say I was really, really welcomed in Hampshire.’

You found you were very popular. Sorry, but couldn’t we hear about some of the concerns over your credibility? Or was everyone told to shut up and get with the programme?

Putting on her uniform for the first time was ‘life-changing’, she says, transforming her into a warranted officer of the crown.

Alas, we’re drifting further away from the topic of your credibility.

She says: ‘It was a really big significant life change for me, it’s still very much a way of life. It’s wearing uniform but becoming a warranted officer and the responsibility that you get with that is different from being a civilian.

And further still. She seems more interested in talking about her feelings than addressing concerns over her lack of experience.

Now Supt Blyth is looking forward to taking over in January, having completed stints on response and patrol – answering 999 calls – along with placements on neighbourhood patrols – which Supt Blyth calls the ‘bedrock of policing’, and investigations.

Stints. I’ll come back to that later.

She says: ‘I’m really looking forward to working with partner agencies across Portsmouth and working together, and working with the team I have in place within policing in Portsmouth.’

She is hoping to take on board the experience gained from the frontline during the training scheme – and go back out with officers while in post as district commander.

She says: ‘I was working with officers at a frontline level and that was really interesting. I was able to go back to my colleagues and those managers above me.’

Partner agencies…working together…take on board…frontline level. Somebody took home a copy of the Powerpoint presentation and memorised it, didn’t they?

Her first arrest also brought home her new powers as an officer. She says: ‘That was a new duty for me, arresting somebody and realising the impact of taking someone’s liberty.

Felt good, I bet.

Supt Blyth, a mother-of-three who is expecting her fourth grandchild soon, was assessed while on placements.

Who says motherhood is an impediment to a full-blown career! Take that, glass ceiling!

Okay, what we’re seeing above is absolutely typical of how most large, modern organisations are run these days. First you need to decide what your high-flyer looks like, and for many organisations being female is highly desirable if not essential. In the case of Portsmouth police, her being a mother and grandmother was probably a bonus in their eyes, too (as it was, no doubt, for the local criminals: if the bobby making their first arrest is a grandmother of three, then we can probably assume they have the run of the place). Next, you need to fast-track them into a senior position without delay, putting them through the absolute bare minimum of training necessary to deflect the inevitable criticism from the 95% of the organisation who are not deemed high-flyers. This is where “stints” come in.

There was a time when those seeking the higher echelons of an organisation would have to demonstrate both competence and time served. The former requirement was dropped some time ago in favour of blind obedience to one’s superiors, but at least they would be expected to do the necessary time. But the modern organisation has an image to project and diversity quotas to fill, and can’t hang around for years waiting for its golden boys and girls to obtain knowledge through experience. Instead they’re sent on a whirlwind tour of the organisation, spending barely a few weeks in one department before moving onto the next, so that at the end of the period the individual knows just enough about each part to be able to interfere and fuck things up once they’re in charge. Humility is in short supply among a modern high-flyer.

Anyone objecting to what is happening is told in no uncertain terms to shut up and stay on-message. Those who fail to heed the warnings are subject to enormous pressure from the surrounding management along with dark threats over their future career and continued employment, such that everyone falls into a silence, the sort which would make a high-flyer assume they are “really welcomed” by whichever department they’re foisted on that week.

All of this ties into what I said in this post, that pretty soon the smartest people, particularly ambitious young men, will not even bother joining large organisations and instead set up on their own to feed off the bloated carcasses of those who railroad grandmothers with one year’s service into the top job. In fact, I have a friend doing pretty much that. He is a rather large man with a bushy beard and tattoos and has a colourful history of mercenary work in Iraq before joining the security team of a prominent Russian billionaire. He has since set up his own security company and, from what I can tell, does rather well doing jobs the police used to do, plugging the gaps when they withdrew from law enforcement and became a branch of the social services. It’s not hard to see how doing this sort of work is more attractive than joining the police. His idea of diversity is ensuring you have several means of maiming people at your disposal at any given time.

I’d advise any smart young man about to graduate to get a firm understanding of what sort of chap he is and take a good look at the organisations trying to recruit him. Just have a look at their website and graduate brochure, that’ll be enough. Certainly the police Twitter feeds tell me everything I need to know about the state of the various forces in the UK, and this latest story from Portsmouth didn’t surprise me one bit. This is the new normal.

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The Pussyfication of Society, Rugby Edition

From the BBC:

The UK’s chief medical officers (CMOs) are being urged to protect children from the risks of rugby injuries by removing contact from the school game.

Let’s see who’s driving this:

Prof Allyson Pollock, from Newcastle University, is presenting new evidence that banning tackling would reduce concussion, head and neck injuries.

So a woman is trying to ban the fundamental aspects of a sport that boys have enjoyed for generations. At this point I’d say the feminists have pretty much won, wouldn’t you?

A spokesman for World Rugby said it was unaware of any new evidence that would challenge the current position.

Good. Stick to your guns, boys.

Last year, the CMOs rejected a call for a ban on tackling in youth rugby.

Another relentless campaign. Who’s funding this crap? Want to bet it’s the taxpayer?

They said the benefits of learning, training and playing rugby outweighed the risks of injury.

And who’d want to bet that none of those trying to force these changes ever played rugby to any standard?

I hear the same thing is happening with American football across the pond: over-protective mothers and meddling feminists are running around waving scare stories about concussion, causing participation rates to plummet.

Prof Pollock said children who wanted to could still play contact rugby outside school, for clubs, but schools should not be able to enforce contact rugby.

Look, I grew up in Wales where rugby was a near-religion. I couldn’t run, pass, or tackle which meant I could only play prop, but I weighed six stone soaking wet and was skinny as a beanpole so that was out too. (I also knew to come in from the rain, further ruling me out as a prop.) So what did I do? Well, the lads who were decent got put in one group and the rest (like me) were put in another. The first lot did some proper rugby training and we just had a bit of a run about, enough to get us warm(ish), muddy, and out of breath. I don’t remember putting in many tackles, but you could if you wanted. But it was the boys in the first group who really benefited, because they would later go on to play club rugby and one or two even for Wales. If they were relying on clubs to teach them the basics most of them would never have gone, particularly the working class lads. Going to a rugby club relies on having parents who both care and have the time and means to take their kids there on a Saturday morning. Aren’t we forever being told we need to be more inclusive? It didn’t come much more inclusive than school rugby.

She said: “We call on the chief medical officers to act on the evidence and advise the UK government to put the interests of the child before those of corporate professional rugby unions and remove harmful contact from the school game.”

Oh please. Rugby has been a feature in schools since way before the game even turned professional. This woman hasn’t got the first clue what she’s on about.

The authors reported research that girls were found to be three or four times more likely than boys to be affected by symptoms of concussion for 28 days, and they also highlighted the links between head injuries and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Wasn’t the argument for girls not playing rugby that they would not be up to it physically? Perhaps we ought to have listened, eh?

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New Labour and the Abolition of Standards

This amused:

The Times columnist Oliver Kamm is among the staunchest of an ever-dwindling band of Blairites, and was a supporter of Blair and New Labour throughout his time in office. That he should now be complaining of a lack of standards in the Labour party is somewhat ironic.

I remember when Blair won the 1997 election. Central to New Labour’s campaign was the idea that the Conservatives were out of touch and old fashioned and Britain was badly in need of modernising, and once in office they set about dismantling or “reforming” as many institutions as they could. Anything traditional was trashed, the latest whimsical fad adopted without question. Organisations and practices that had stood the test of time for generations were overhauled by Blair and his cronies who had not the slightest clue what they were doing, and nor did they care. All that mattered is Blair maintain his image as one of the cool, hip guys who could get down wiv the kids and get rid of Britain’s stuffy past. These were the days of Cool Britannia.

Blair’s contempt for the institutions and traditions of his own country went a long way to making the Union Flag a symbol of racism in some circles. Caught up in the stupidity, British Airways removed it from its tailplanes replacing them with tribal symbols and other such empty guff which typified those times. At least they were smart enough to reverse their decision in 2001, and BA were far from the only established firm to embark on a disastrous modernising and rebranding programme in the late ’90s and early ’00s; that list is long indeed.  It goes without saying that New Labour’s reforms were cack-handed in the extreme: their ban on fox hunting was an unworkable mess followed by an absolute fudge; the wholly unnecessary House of Lords reform made things worse; and the abolition of the historic Lord Chancellor’s position without consideration of the constitutional effects epitomised the hubris of Blair and the whole New Labour mindset.

As is so often the case when a leader sets about trying to modernise institutions they don’t understand, Blair ended up chucking out standards in the process. Principles no longer mattered, nor did truth, honesty, and transparency. “Spin” was the new buzz-word and one’s political stance could be changed suddenly if a focus group advised the winds of public opinion had shifted momentarily. Endless tinkering, meddling, and unnecessary reforms coupled with cronyism, pettiness, and mediocrity were hallmarks of Blair and New Labour, and they left behind them an almighty mess inherited by jumped-up PPE graduates in shiny suits and power skirts who knew only Blair-type politics and nothing else. The absolute joke that were the Milliband brothers were fine examples of this, as was the clownish David Cameron. Desperate to win back the political centre, the Tories abandoned all pretence to conservatism and became another version of New Labour, indeed its natural successor. This had the effect of shoving Labour further to the left as political standards across the whole spectrum fell even further.

And now we have Labour scraping rock bottom with the Tories trundling up to the hole with drilling equipment, and metropolitan journalists who used up half their column inches praising Blair’s cultural, institutional, and political vandalism complain that standards have slipped.

Well, who’s fault is that, then?

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The State of Women’s Football

The BBC has been running this story on its front page since last night, possibly assuming more than a dozen people give a shit:

Mark Sampson has been sacked as England women’s manager following evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.

The Football Association says that last week it was made aware of the full details of safeguarding allegations made against Sampson in 2014 relating to his time as Bristol Academy manager.

Mark who? Oh, right. Okay. Women’s football. Sorry, where did I leave my paint-drying specs?

Saying that, I found the article illuminating but probably not in the way the BBC would want me to.

Sampson was also cleared this year of wrongdoing following discrimination allegations made by England [women] players, including Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko.

The concerns Eni Aluko raised were about perceived bullying and perceived racism. We have investigated those properly, there have been two separate investigations actually which have broadly concluded there’s no systematic evidence for that.

Top-flight women footballer complains about bullying and racism from her male coach. Subsequent investigation turns up no evidence to support the complaint. We then get a timeline (emphasis mine):

December 2013: Sampson becomes England manager having left Bristol Academy

May 2016: England forward Eniola Aluko is asked to participate in a cultural review of all England teams by the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth.

December 2016: An independent investigation, led by barrister Katharine Newton, hears Aluko’s claims that during a meeting in 2015, Sampson made a “highly inappropriate remark”.

March 2017: The independent review clears Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing but it is understood that Aluko was paid £80,000 in a confidentiality agreement.

13 September 2017: FA says it received the full safeguarding review panel report on the allegations against Sampson.

14 September 2017: The FA says it could re-open its investigation into racism claims against Sampson after further evidence is submitted.

20 September 2017: Sampson sacked by FA

I’m building up a picture here. Are you?

Last week, the FA announced it was to re-open its investigation into separate discrimination claims against Sampson, first made in 2016.

Sampson was alleged to have asked mixed race England midfielder Drew Spence whether she had been arrested during a tournament in 2015, a claim which he denied.

The horrors!

The claim was first made by Spence’s England and Chelsea team-mate Aluko, and Spence has now submitted written evidence to support it.

In a further separate allegation, Aluko said Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not “bring Ebola” to an England game at Wembley in 2014.

Her background is Nigerian, eh?

Two investigations – one internal FA inquiry and one independent review led by barrister Katharine Newton – cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing.

He’s been cleared by two separate investigations, yet people are still unhappy.

Senior FA executives are set to face a parliamentary inquiry over the investigations after Aluko initially raised a “bullying and harassment” grievance against Sampson in response to an internal cultural review.

Parliamentary inquiries, investigations, grievances, internal cultural reviews? There is an entire sub-industry operating in women’s football it seems. Why, it’s almost as if…

Aluko, who has 102 caps and is a qualified lawyer…

Ah, they beat me to it.

Remember folks, this is a sport we’re constantly being encouraged to take seriously. Frankly, my solution would be to appoint a woman as the next England coach and let them get on with whatever the hell they want. Just don’t keep shoving stories about it under my nose, if I wanted high-drama about a load of women I’d watch Desperate Housewives.

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