Late Christmas Presents…
December 30, 2010

David Cameron hasn’t had much to say for himself lately, leaving Cleggy to pick up the pieces of a coalition government in disarray, but he hasn’t taken his eye off the ball and was quickly off the mark yesterday cashing in on England’s Ashes victory by referring to it as a ‘great late Christmas present’.

There is nothing like sporting success to lift the mood of the nation and we certainly need it with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development already predicting unemployment is set to hit a seventeen year high during 2011. But that’s for another day…            

As expected it didn’t take too long for England to wrap up a historic innings victory on the fourth day of the 4th Test at the MCG.

There is no doubt this is not a great Australian team and before the series started, it could have been argued, on paper there was very little between the sides. However the Aussies, playing in their own backyard, have become so accustomed to pummeling the whingeing poms over the last 24 years that there was always an underlying feeling of inevitability about the eventual outcome.    

But not so, England have comprehensively out batted, out bowled and out fielded the Aussies, with the exception of the opening day of the series, in Brisbane, and a couple of sessions at Perth when Mitchell Johnson finally clicked into gear and bowled them briefly back into the series.

England’s preparation and attention to detail has been outstanding and much credit should go to Andy Flower’s coaching team and captain Andrew Strauss. All that now remains is to ensure, that with the Ashes secured, they don’t allow the Aussies any crumbs of comfort in the final Sydney Test.

With the Aussies in such disarray anything less than a 3-1 series victory might be considered disappointing!  How long is it since we have been able to say that?  

It will be interesting to see how the notoriously unsentimental Australian selectors deal with the Ponting question. He is great player at the fag-end of his career.

He could be dropped due to his dismal batting form, where unthinkably he is averaging just 16 for the series. Alternatively he could be omitted due to the hand injury, sustained in Perth, which he struggled with at the MCG.

Punter is nothing if not a battler and deserves a final chance to show that he isn’t quite finished.    

I’m sure celebrity cricket supporter Sir Elton John will have considered England’s victory the icing on his seasonal cake  following the announcement of his own special Christmas gift – a surrogate son born to him and his partner David Furnish.

I’ve always been an Elton fan, both of his music and personality. Let’s be honest he does genuinely fall into that increasingly over used category, national treasures.

However, on this occasion, I’m not at all sure about a 63-year-old pop star, still touring and living a highly publicised superstar lifestyle, arguably acquiring a newborn baby as if he were some sort of fashion accessory.

I hope I am wrong and that the happy couple can provide Zachary Jackson Levon with the start in life that he deserves.

Elton, formerly Reg Dwight, is also well-known, at least in Nottingham, as the nephew of Roy Dwight who scored for Forest in their 1959 FA Cup victory over Luton Town.

Elton’s uncle opened the scoring after 10 minutes. However with 33 minutes gone, and  Forest winning 2-0, Dwight was carried off the Wembley pitch after breaking his leg in a tackle.

These were the days before substitutes were allowed but Forest held on, winning the match 2-1, to become the only team reduced to 10 men by injury to lift the trophy.

Which brings me nicely to last night and the current Forest team who presented their fans with, the best possible late Christmas present, a beautifully gift wrapped 5-2 victory over local rivals Derby County.

The rivalry between the two clubs is as intense as any in the country. Both have seen better days but currently share aspirations of returning to the Premiership.

How often do former players return to haunt their old clubs? Last night was no exception. Marcus Tudgay and Robbie Earnshaw both picked up a brace for the Tricky Trees and Kris Commons withstood a torrent of boos to slot home one of his trademark free kicks for the Rams.    

The following is purloined from the http://www.thisisderbyshire website and will be music to the ears of Forest fans everywhere:

Forest’s pace and attacking play combined with Derby’s wretched defending made it a nightmare night for the Rams.

It was the first time in more than 100 years Derby had conceded five goals to the Reds. The last time was in March 1904.

The Rams are leaking goals at an alarming rate. Seventeen have found their net in the last seven games.”

Happy New Year!

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Geeky or Gawky for the Labour Leadership Race?
September 1, 2010

The sun is shining and the sky is blue. High pressure is settling over the UK for the rest of the week so it must be the end of the holidays and the beginning of the new school year!

As Chris left for work with a sprightly spring in her step (joke!), I reflected on the fact that for the first time in many years I had enjoyed a good night’s sleep on the eve of a new school year and that my stomach was not churning!        

If it’s back to school time for teachers, then the politicians will soon be back in Westminster.

Since the end of term, Sam and Dave whilst holidaying in Cornwall were visited by a stork with special delivery package and the PM has been able to engage in a few politician kisses baby photo opportunities, with baby Flo aka Florence Rose Endellion. I don’t think she will thank them for the latter (after her place of birth) in years to come!

Meanwhile Cleggy, who got all excited about looking after the keys to Number 10 and being asked to water the plants, wet the baby’s head with a pint of Brains.

He also met a visiting football FIFA delegation and did his best to back the bid for World Cup 2018, claiming it was, “unbeatable” and that, “it will inspire people in towns and cities across the country,” which is more than we can say for the coalition.   

To be honest FIFA could cut down on their carbon footprint and save a lot of time. Paul the celebrity psychic octopus, formerly of the Weymouth Sea Life Centre but currently living in Germany, has chosen England so it’s a done deal!     

The Labour Leadership race is entering the final furlong. There are five runners but it is fast becoming a two-horse race with Geeky and Gawky battling it out for the finishing line.

Geeky (Ed – left) and Gawky (David) formerly known as Miliband minor and Miliband major are the bookies’ favourites.

Bullish Ed (Balls) has lived up to his name and made a bit of a mess up of the race, too much like a bull in a china shop!

Andy Who (Burnham), has had a pretty good run out, with his sales pitch about  aspirational socialism which will marry the best of Old and New Labour, but  there are too many hurdles for this young unknown who has always been an outsider. He’s one to watch  for the future and his day will come.  

Dear Dianne, a robust filly, has huffed and puffed from the start finding it very heavy going and will look forward to being reunited with her stable mate Portillo and trainer Andrew Neil in the This Week studio.

That old tipster, the Prince of Darkness (aka the Third Man when signing copies of his autobiography up and down the country) seems to have switched horses mid race.

He made Geeky, a slightly more charismatic contender than the rest of the field, an early favourite but his tendency to veer towards the far left has caused a change of heart. He now seems to favour Gawky who has more of an inclination towards a right of centre course.

Gawky is certainly a stayer and more experienced than his opponents but some pundits feel he will need to shed a bit of weight as he carries a bit too much baggage. His healthy, high energy diet will probably see him first past the post provided he avoids any banana skins in the final gallop for home.  

Whoever is paraded around the winner’s paddock in a few weeks time, (I would prefer Geeky but think it will be Gawky) will have their work cut out to mount a serious challenge against the coalition stable’s high flyers.

Interestingly, betting slips (sorry ballot papers) have been sent out to Labour party members on the same day that a former novice, and three times winner of the biggest race of all, has chosen to release his memoirs – A Journey

I hope it doesn’t prove to be too much of a handicap!

A little bit of needle…..
July 24, 2010

There was quite a bit of needle about this week!

BNP racist (and MEP!) Nick Griffin (seen well to the right…) was rather needled when, at very short notice, his invitation to attend the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace was withdrawn.

Many would say he should never have been invited in the first place but it didn’t matter as boastful claims, on his website, that he would be, “welcomed at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty the Queen,” and that, “this event shows how far this party (the BNP) has come,” were enough for him to be banned on the grounds of insanity and exploiting the invitation for political purposes.  

Of course, having missed out on the cucumber sandwiches, he was now able to play the victimization card, making capital of what he described as a, “thoroughly unBritish outrage,” which subsequently picked up front page coverage in most of the dailies.

Another Nick, this time Clegg, needled a few of his coalition friends, and turned the air blue on both sides of the house, during PM’s questions.

While the master was away in Washington, playing down the special relationshipCleggy had his first opportunity to stand-in and promptly dropped a brick by referring to the ‘illegal’ invasion of Iraq.

The Speaker of the House and Cleggy’s Tory mates might not have been impressed by this gaffe but at least Jack, the grim reaper, Straw enjoyed a laugh at his expense.  

Apparently Cleggy is rather puzzled why a recent independent survey shows the yellows standing at 13% in the polls whilst his true blue mates are at 44%. I have to take my hat off to DC, he has played this coalition game to perfection!        

There was a bit of sporting needle on Le Tour, when Alberto Contador flouted an unwritten cycling rule by kicking on to build up a lead over his main rival, Luxemburg’s Andy Schleck, who had to stop and perform running repairs on his bike chain.   

It’s ironic, if not down right hypocritical, that in a sporting event renowned for its cheating, through the illegal use of performance enhancing substances, blood transfusions etc, that something as relatively insignificant as this caused such a fuss!  

Surely, if a cycle chain slips or is broken, it is unfortunate for the rider, but should be accepted as part and parcel of the race in a similar way to a Formula 1 car shredding a tyre or developing an engine fault!

Anyway the sporting etiquette of Le Tour was already set in only its second year, 1904, with recorded incidents as diverse as: booby trapping the road with tin tacks, hitching a lift in a passing voiture, the beating up of rival competitors and blackmail!     

Last but not least I’m also feeling a tad needled!

A visit to the local medical centre, yesterday afternoon, to discuss the immunisation requirements, for my VSO posting in Rwanda, led to an impromptu swine flu jab.

Just a little prick sir,” and, “by the way you might have a headache and feel nauseous over the weekend!”

This is to be swiftly followed up with yellow fever on Monday and the first of three rabies injections on Wednesday. I can’t wait!

‘Hip’Politicians & the Grange Hill Academy?
July 21, 2010

So just what is it with politicians and references to pop culture? They never seem able to get it quite right and invariably finish up with egg on their faces or worse!

The latest in a long line of cringe worthy moments, of this type, came from PM David Cameron earlier this week. On meeting Liverpool born TV producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, creator of cult ‘80s children’s TV series Grange Hill, DC tried to up his street cred by coming out  as a huge fan and naming ‘Gripper’ Stebson as one of his role models in life!

It might have been a joke DC (it’s hard to tell, you’re not a natural when it comes to stand up comedy are you?) but admitting to hero worshipping a bully and a racist is not too clever is it?

I doubt ‘Gripper’ would have voted Tory, more likely BNP!

But Cameron is not alone when it comes to this particular type of banana skin.

Remember back in 1997, when newly elected PM Tony Blair was quick to tell us he had been in a band called Ugly Rumours, whilst at Oxford, and then went on to embrace Brit Pop by inviting Noel Gallagher to a Number 10 reception and that stage-managed, cheesy photo opportunity?  It certainly wasn’t one of his better moments! 

Not to be out done, Gordon Brown, whilst Chancellor, tried to shake off his dour image by showing off  an eclectic taste in popular TV, and music. He claimed he was a big fan of X-factor and that the Arctic Monkeys featured on his  iPod, along side Cold Play, U2, (and this is where he slipped up) James Blunt!  

He then showed just how un-hip he really was with his famous, “The Arctic Monkeys really wake you up in the morning,” quote. It just didn’t seem right some how!

And then there was Lord Prezza, back in his Deputy PM days, attending the BRIT Awards and getting a bucket of icy water thrown over him for his pains.

Danbert Nobacon, of Chumbawamba, justified his anarchic actions by saying,

 “If John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the BRIT Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy then he deserves all we can throw at him.”

Harking back to Grange Hill I wonder if, ‘born again Blairite’, Michael Gove would have considered the North London comprehensive school for academy status? It’s more likely they would have been in special measures I suppose, but then again it looks Gove is a Grange Hill old boy! (right: Gove, far right: Zammo)

‘Heroes’ and ‘Villains’
July 17, 2010

Definitions of a hero:

  1. A brave person
  2. A person noted for their courage or nobility of purpose especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life
  3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field
  4. The main character in a drama or other literary work
  5. A celebrity

Definitions of a villain:

  1. A wicked or  evil person
  2. A mean, worthless character in a story or play
  3. A scoundrel
  4. An antagonist who has a negative effect on other people

The Facebook Fiasco!

I don’t agree with David Cameron’s political intervention, because you are never going to win in a situation like this. Firstly, you can’t control people’s opinions or take away their right to express them (not yet anyway!) and secondly, it only serves to draw attention to those misguided enough to have stated their support for Raoul Moat, as some kind of folk hero.      

Moat may have gained celebrity, in some quarters, as  an anti-hero but in actual fact he was a self pittying, wicked and evil villain.

He may also have been a victim whose cries for help went unheeded by the support services. That’s certainly the image being generated by edited extracts from his tapes which have been aired by the media. The verdict is still out on that one.

If there are heroes to come out of this whole sorry saga try PC Rathband who, in the line of public duty, happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, was shot in the face and has lost his sight. And what about Moat’s children, who he supposedly loved so much? They have not only lost a father but will have to grow up with the legacy of his murderous exploits.    

Graduate Tax

I’m rather undecided about Vince Cable’s graduate tax but it’s certainly worth exploring further. On the face of it, it seems not a bad idea for students but less good for certain universities. Like everything the devil will be in the detail.

However I agree totally with his views on reducing some university courses to two years, flexible part-time modular degrees and raising the status of vocational training. University is not right for everyone and the previous government were misguided in implying it should be an aspiration for at least 50% of all school leavers.

Of course, modular degrees through distance learning are nothing new. I earned a degree that way back in the late 1970s through, what in my opinion is one of the greatest legacies of any Labour government, the Open University.  

Back to Vince Cable, it was reassuring to hear that voice of calm reason once again. His talents are clearly being wasted and I’m sure he would have made a far more considered and compassionate chancellor than Cameron’s buddy, Osborne. However I do concede there would be logistical difficulties having a PM and chancellor from different parties.       

In pantomime terms, which are probably those best suited to the coalition government at the moment, Vince cuts a lonely heroic figure surrounded by celebrity seeking villains!

The Famous Five

I admit to being rather ambivalent about the over hyped and much publicised Take That reunion but, back in the mid ’90s, as  a father of twelve and thirteen year old girls I remember well the female hysteria that accompanied Robbie’s dramatic exit and the subsequent break up of the boy band.

Ostensibly this was a consequence of an apparent disagreement over how the band should develop and the type of music they should be producing but quickly escalated into a battle of giant egos. Robbie and Garry were the main antagonists, and portrayed as the villains of the piece.    

Robbie, a celebrity hero to many in his solo career, has enjoyed his time in the sun including an 80 million pound recording contract with EMI, and whilst hardly on the bread line, his current standing and sales have somewhat slipped. And of course he never really conquered America did he?

Meanwhile, since 2006 the reformed Take That quartet has enjoyed meteoric success, sales are soaring, and their record-breaking The Circus Live has taken the USA by storm. Their heroic celebrity status of yesteryear has well and truly been re-established.  

Old cynics, like me, will say Robbie has got much more to gain than the rest of the boys by hitching his star to the Take That wagon.

The new album and the subsequent tour will undoubtedly be the music industry stories of the year and I am pleased for their legion of loyal fans, mostly in their late 20’s and 30 some things now I guess!

Their type of music never did and still doesn’t do anything for me other than by association with my kids growing up.        

I hope those five boys from yesteryear have matured into men who genuinely have buried their differences and that there is more to this reunion than pound signs!

Once the album is out, I have my doubts they will make it through the tour. Rumour has it Robbie suffers stage fright! Could that be his get out of jail card if he needs it?

Compare the meerkats.com
July 13, 2010

Gove Compare…

As a recently retired primary school headteacher, try as I might, I’m still finding it difficult to distance myself  from or  prevent myself getting worked up by education news stories   – and there have been a few good ones recently!

Fast tracked, rising star of the Tory party, education minister Michael Gove is quickly realising that being in power is just a bit more difficult than being in opposition.

Life on the government front bench brings with it far greater media scrutiny, particularly when you drop a brick or two – well five actually!  That’s how many incorrect lists, so far, he has published regarding the schools that will be affected following his axing of the Building Schools for the Future programme

Gove’s facial expression coupled with a propensity to blink furiously has led the rather superior, and patronising minister to be likened to a meerkat by Ann Treneman, writing in The Times. So to paraphrase two well-known insurance adverts, gove compare the meerkats!

What do you think?

If his ineptitude were not so serious for all those students, staff and parents who have had their hopes falsely raised and then promptly dashed again, it would be funny.

Does he have aides to help him with his weekly shopping list?

 

DC Terrified!

David Cameron (he’s the one on the right just in case, like me, you have difficulty telling the two apart!)  revealed to Sunday’s News of the World that he is TERRIFIED at the thought of sending his kids to a state secondary school in central London.

The Eton educated prime minister has always made great political capital of the fact he desperately wants his children to go through the state education system, so is this an early warning that he might be having second thoughts?

He announced,” I’ve got a six-year-old and a four-year old and I’m terrified living in central London”, “There aren’t enough good school places, that’s the problem.”          

Well isn’t that wonderful, towards the end of the school year when workloads are often at their greatest and energy levels at their lowest, for the hard pressed and genuinely hard-working teachers of central London to receive such a vote of confidence from the Prime Minister?  

I wonder how much his assertions are based simply on superficial schools data, or is it just another too good to miss opportunity to have another go at the previous government’s record on education?

I suspect he is so busy that he has aides who do the groundwork for him but if he really wants to keep in touch perhaps he should do as other working parents in the real world do, get on his bike (don’t forget your helmet & keep to the left) and visit the local schools, talk to the staff and the students and get a real feel for what’s going on. He might be pleasantly surprised.  

S*** Ms Atkins!

I couldn’t believe what I was reading on the front page of the Sunday Times. I had to pinch myself – it wasn’t April 1st was it?

Zenna Atkins, soon to step down from her position as chairwoman of Ofsted, is either cracking under the strain or demob happy. Either way Ms Atkins, who interestingly left school with just one O-level to her name (my guess is domestic science!) has announced, to a fanfare of trumpets, that it is her personal opinion that every school needs a ‘useless teacher’!

She maintains that primary schools, in particular, should provide opportunities for children to identify and deal with people in authority who can’t adequately perform their job. “One really good thing about primary school is that every kid learns how to deal with a really s*** teacher”.

This is of course beyond belief from a member of an organisation that has always taken itself far too seriously, but is so ridiculous it isn’t even worth getting worked up about. I’ve always considered Ofsted a bit of an irrelevance but a necessary evil. With this sort of woman in charge it is little wonder that an increasing number of heads, teachers and parents don’t pay too much attention to their findings.

However Zenna’s idea does raise all sorts of interesting questions?

  • Will there be a new category for Ofsted’s classroom inspection judgements :  outstanding, good, satisfactory, less than satisfactory, s****    
  • Will it be held against schools if none of the teachers meet Ofsted’s new s*** teacher criteria?
  • Will governors and headteacher’s be required to officially nominate a **** teacher and write it into their job description?
  • If the school is having difficulty finding a s*** teacher will the head be expected to ask a teacher to lower their standards a bit and take on the responsibility?
  • Will parents be informed when it is their child’s turn to be in the s*** teacher’s class or left to work it out for themselves?   
  • Will the nominated s*** teacher be entitled to a TLR (Teaching and Learning Responsibility) payment?  or
  • Will there be a separate pay scale for s*** teachers with a lower threshold that teachers can apply to go through?  
  • Will outstanding and good schools be able to advertise for a s*** teacher in order to fill that gap in their staffing profile?
  • Will parents be able to claim compensation if a school is unable to provide their child with a s*** teacher for one out of their seven years in primary education?

And now the papers……….
July 4, 2010

During our pub lunch at the Trout yesterday, Gemma mentioned she had been keeping a ‘journalistic eye’ on my blog and then proceeded to offer me the benefit of her professional advice. Nicci, with her teacher’s head on, waded in and before I knew it the following targets for improvement had been set:

  1. ‘Show more literary discipline’ – in other words don’t ramble!
  2. Don’t over do the sport – mix  up the content more
  3. Don’t get sloppy with your proof reading – (slap on the wrist!)

Success criteria: more succinct, accurately written, posts which appeal to a greater audience resulting in more ‘hits’.

So, basically, ‘must do better!’  Here goes then:

I’ve always fancied doing that slot on Breakfast TV where guests review the papers. These are the stories (in brief) that have caught my eye this week:

David Cameron is officially a ‘waxwork’ : Enough said!

Baroness Flo: For children of the ’70s (and some university students) Playschool presenter Floella Benjamin  is a legend. She has taken her seat as a Lib Dem peer and is currently working on her maiden speech for the Lords. I trust Humpty and Jemima will be in the public gallery!    

     

 

Tory MP puts foot in mouth-Part 1:  Andrew Lansley (Health Secretary) declares Jamie Oliver’s Healthy School Meals campaign a failure. Top tip: Don’t slag off a ‘national treasure’. A celebrity chef can only do so much and at least he’s trying. How are the coalition going to address the healthy lifestyles agenda, by cutting school meals subsidies?   

 

Tory MP puts foot in mouth-Part 2:  Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt loses the votes of an entire city at a single stroke! Top tip: If he thinks an apology over his Hillsborough disaster gaff will wash with the scousers – forget it. Liverpudlians still steadfastly refuse to buy The Sun because of its assertion, at the time, that Liverpool fans contributed to the disaster.  

Don’t Cry for Me Argentina!  Diego ‘Hand of God’ Maradona, one of the ‘main events’ at this World Cup, had appeared on track for further footballing immortality. The roly-poly football legend has undergone a transformation from  drug addled, obese laughing-stock and reinvented himself as coach of the Argentina national side. His press conferences had been a breath of fresh air and his team a delight to watch until they inexplicably succumbed to the Germans by 4-0!   

The Italian Job:  Fabio Capello keeps his job but probably for the wrong reasons. The FA can’t afford the compensation or face the public ordeal of appointing another coach.  

Murray misses his Moment:  

The time seemed right and the nation was all set to hail a Wimbledon champion for the first time since 1977. Even the Queen had leant her support!  Unfortunately Rafael Nadal had not read the script. Murray was good but not good enough. Nadal is a supreme athlete with a precision and killer instinct that Murray still can’t quite match. There’s always next year!

A stroll for Serena: Meanwhile fashion guru & ‘model’ Serena Williams took time out from her business interests to lift the Wimbledon crown for a 4th time.  She and her sister, Venus (who take it in turns), have now won an incredible 8 out of the last 10 Wimbledon championships!

Gideon’s Way!
June 23, 2010

George Osborne, the Chancellor formerly known as Gideon, emerged from yesterday’s ‘unavoidable’ Emergency Budget relatively unscathed.

We’ve been so well primed for this ‘tough but fair’ recovery plan that hardly an eyebrow was raised. Timing is everything of course and, realistically, in the glow of yesterday’s summer sunshine, more minds were probably focused on Andy Murray, safely negotiating his way through the first round at Wimbledon, and England’s forthcoming  do or die World Cup match.

The media are generally agreed that this budget is the most severe in living memory, but largely accepting that the bitter pill of savage cuts, in public spending and benefits, and an increase in VAT to 20%, is the consequence of the previous government’s financial mismanagement and something we will have to swallow.

Whilst the Mail described the Chancellor’s performance as ‘Masterful’ and the Telegraph dubbed him ‘Osborne the Enforcer’, the Guardian was rather more prosaic, alerting us to ‘Pain now, more pain later’. Only the good old Mirror voiced its opposition, ‘History will show George Osborne’s Budget was a disaster.’

Perhaps ‘prudence’ would not normally be associated with ex members of  Oxford University’s elite ‘Bullingdon Club’, membership by invitation only and renowned for its wealth and destructive binges.  But will Cameron and Osborne in their new guise as  ‘the dynamic duo’ save the day?

At this stage the jury is out, but those in opposition are saying say the cuts are too much too soon, will restrict growth and result in a dramatic increase in unemployment.  As always the Tories seem to think this is a price worth paying.   

One thing is certain, however, we now have a coalition government in name only, and this is well and truly a Tory budget. 

Nick Clegg, resplendent in his golden tie, and Danny Alexander, becoming increasingly prominent as senior minister to the Treasury, were strategically placed either side of Osborne on the front bench, like two nodding dogs throughout his speech. They are slowly but surely morphing into Tories and it won’t be long before Cleggy becomes, ‘the man with the royal blue tie’.  

This was a master stroke by Cameron and Osborne, for it was the front bench Lib Dems, not the Tories, who bore the brunt of Harriet Harman’s response to the budget as she demanded, “How could they support everything they fought against? How could they let everyone down who voted for them?”

When Harman is on song, as she was yesterday, one wonders why she isn’t standing for the Labour leadership. Her display was confident and passionate, something we haven’t seen from the Labour bench for a while, and she went for the kill in no uncertain terms: “The Lib Dem leaders have sacrificed everything they ever stood for to ride in ministerial cars and to ride on the coat-tails of the Tory Government”.

A lot of Lib Dem backbenchers and voters would say, ‘Amen to that!’ and it will be interesting to see how many MPs break ranks and side with Labour in voting against the budget.

The Emergency Budget will go down in political history, not only in terms of its severity, but as the beginning of the end of this coalition government and more significantly as the point at which the Liberal Democrat Party seized to exist as an entity in its own right.

Domhnach na Fola – 38 Years of Hurt……
June 16, 2010

The events of Sunday January 3oth 1972 should and will forever be remembered.   

I was still at school, studying ‘A’ levels, and living at home with my parents. I don’t actually recall, but it was probably a typical Sunday for us, reading the papers, enjoying a roast lunch and settling down in front of the TV to watch edited highlights of one of the previous day’s big games  on ‘Star Soccer’.   

Meanwhile over the Irish Sea, in Derry, the tragic events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ were unfolding. 26  unarmed and innocent civilians were gunned down by British Paratroopers, confronting an unlawful but peaceful demonstration with a hail of gunfire.

The families and friends of the victims, indeed the whole community of Northern Ireland’s second city have lived with the painful consequences of these murderous actions for 38 years.  

The initial enquiry, from Lord Chief Justice Widgery 11 weeks after the event and proclaimed as the ‘official truth’, has now been shown to be anything but. In many ways the publication of this report, which whitewashed the actions of the British troops and in effect denied what local people and the media had seen with their own eyes, was almost certainly responsible for intensifying and prolonging the Troubles in Ireland.    

Twelve years ago, as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, then Prime Minister Tony Blair took the unprecedented step of setting up a second official enquiry, led by Lord Saville,  which was finally and momentously published yesterday.

It couldn’t have been more categorical and unambiguous in its findings, clearing all 26 victims (14 killed) of any actions that might have provoked the massacre and laying the blame firmly with the paratroopers.   

The report, 10 volumes and 5000 words long, took an amazing 12 years and £192,000,000 to produce, which begs belief when one considers the Nuremberg Trials at the end of the Second World War only lasted a year!

However, whilst there should be future questions about where that money went and whether lawyers have been profiteering at the tax payers’  expense,  sometimes the truth costs and it is far better that the people of Derry can have their ‘closure’ after all these years and  that the British Government can be seen to have acted honestly and honourably.

It was a humbling and emotional experience, listening to  David Cameron announce the Saville Report findings to the Commons, while simultaneously watching the reactions of the people in Derry. It seemed almost surreal that Cameron was apologising on behalf of the nation for something that had happened when he was only five years old!

Many of the innocent Bloody Sunday victims were my age. 1972 seems a lifetime ago , and when I consider what I have experienced and achieved in the intervening years it really brings home to me the full tragedy of the event. It is preposterous that it has taken this long for the truth to become officially recognised, but far better late than never.  

However this might not be the end. After all these years, will ‘closure’ be enough for the families and friends of the dead Bloody Sunday victims or will charges be brought against those who unlawfully killed them.