Sunday, 21 March 2010

Anna was porn for the job

Friday, March 19, 2010 by Daily Sport.

WITH the General Election looming, people are looking at candidates hoping to become MPs. One Lib Dem candidate, Anna Arrowsmith, who’s standing in Gravesham, Kent, has been getting extra attention because of her old job as a porn director. Arty Anna used to produce and direct blue movies for her own company, Easy On The Eye Productions. People have been giving her stick over this, as if shooting feisty flicks will make her a bad MP. Really? Anna has proved herself to be a great candidate who cares about her community. That’s what matters. What do people think she is going to do? Bring Pamela Anderson into parliament to shoot a film called Under The Speaker’s Robe or The Honourable Member? Of course not. She’s a highly-qualified and motivated lady who’d easily her hold her own in the Commons. Her opponent, Tory MP Adam Holloway, has been very fair and says people shouldn’t judge Anna on her previous job. What a sensible chap. Top marks Ads. All that remains to be said is “good luck Anna”. I think I speak on behalf of all Daily Sport readers when I say you’ve got our vote.
I’M not over keen on conferences but last weekend I went to the Liberal Democrat gathering in Birmingham anyways. The high point is always supposed to be the leader’s speech. In political conferences, everyone has to give a standing ovation at the end of it, even if it’s crap. However, I’m happy to report leader Nick Clegg delivered the goods. You know me: I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t mean it, because I’m straight with you in this column about my views. But, really, he did do a good job — it’s probably the best speech I’ve seen him do. And I rather liked the idea of giving everyone the first £10,000 we earn tax free. All in all, it was a bit like Mel Gibson’s famous speech in Braveheart — except at the end nobody cut him up into little pieces as he cried “FREEEEDOM!” So well done, Nicko, you’re a good ’un. I also caught up with our party President Ros Scott. A couple of years ago she beat me in an internal election for this post, and I spent time being grumpy about that. But I must admit she’s doing well. The President’s role is to whip all our party activists into shape, and she is. So, for once, I’m one happy “Lib Dem Lem.” Long live Cleggie! Viva El Presidente! I’m actually on side for once — what a refreshing change!
THERE was panic in the Eastern European nation of Georgia last Sunday. Apparently, a fake TV news report fooled people into thinking Russia had invaded and their president killed! Thousands rushed into the streets in terror and mobile phone networks went down. It was hours before it became clear the dodgy report was a “simulation” intended to show what would happen if the president really was taken out by Putin and his pals. It’s hardly surprising people panicked! It was only in 2008 when Russia really did invade. That time tanks came within 30 miles of the capital, Tbilisi. Perhaps the TV guys should stick to You’ve Been Framed, as You’re Being Invaded just doesn’t seem to half as popular!
THE other day I met a bloke you may have heard of: Neil Armstrong. You know, the first man on the Moon? That’s right—thanks to the American Embassy and a bunch of intellectuals at the Royal Society, I rubbed shoulders with one of Mankind’s greatest heroes. For a man who’s walked on the Moon, Neil’s surprisingly down-to-earth. He’s a friendly fella and boy did he have good stories to tell. One thing did get people at the event wound up though —President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel new Moon missions. He’s pretty much written off any chance of there being another American on the Moon for decades. It’ll probably be Chinese who next follow in Neil’s footsteps —before going on to Mars. It’s a real shame, because the Moon landings inspired a whole generation and led to huge leaps forward in technology. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation around those first missions. I’m with the spacemen on this one — our refusal to go to the Moon is one small step back for man, one giant leap back for Mankind.
THERE are many hazards to being an MP — long hours, late nights, random strangers yelling about things that aren’t your fault and . . . erm . . . being covered in fizzy water. That’s what happened to me on train to mid- Wales at the weekend. A fellow calling himself Martin Palmer sat down opposite me. Unfortunately his water was all shook up. When he opened it, about a million litres of frothing water drenched me to the skin . . . well, OK, a few drops anyway. He was very apologetic. But his watery moment of madness did little harm . . . after all, the last thing anyone could ever accuse me of is being a “wet politician!”

Tory talk is doing Britain down

Friday, March 12, 2010 by Daily Sport.

NOW I do like David Cameron – he’s a decent fellow. But Dangerous Dave & Co have been getting stick this week for trying to whip up a national panic in the run-up to the General Election. The Torynauts have been telling folk there will be an “economic meltdown” if they don’t win, and that folks who value their jobs should be voting for them.Hmmm, I can see a few problems here. Firstly,the recession was a worldwide matter, not a party political thing. And secondly, the Tories don’t have a great record on the economy themselves! More mature Daily Sport readers will remember Margaret Thatcher’s stint in office when over three million were on the dole. She makes the current PM look like an economic genius! If that’s not bad enough, these doom-mongering prophecies about another potential economic collapse are actually scaring off investors and hurting our economy here and now. And that means what the Tories are saying while not in government is harming us already – that’s quite a trick. I’m no great fan of Labour’s economic record and I reckon Lib Dem money man Vince Cable would do better. But I try to be fair to everyone in this column, and I offer some advice in good faith to Conservative HQ: “Put a sock in it!” If they want to spread panic, why not just say that if the Tories lose we’ll be destroyed by an asteroid – or eaten by Godzilla. They’re also unsupported speculations, but it’s much better than talking Britain down.
MPs often go to conferences. But last Saturday at Birmingham Town Hall I went to a convention with a difference —Fairport Convention. This iconic folk band has been going for four decades, and happen to be pals of mine. Compared to the ready-mix music of the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, Fairport prove we still have world class musicians. The band’s an inspiration — and has been since the 1960s. When they started, the Cold War was still going, Radio 1 didn’t exist, Alec Douglas- Home was Prime Minister, Celtic were champions of Europe, I was two years old, and Raquel Welch was the world’s pin-up . Fairport Convention — and Raquel Welch—we salute you! If more political conventions were like Fairport, there’d be more harmony and less anarchy in the UK. A nicer kind of politics. Two great things happened this week. Firstly, when I was massively delayed getting to a school conference, the delightfully decent Tory Damian Green MP, moved his diary around to stand in for me. Thanks, mate. If you live in Damian’s area, shake his hand and tell him he rocks. He’ll be surprised - but he’ll like it. Secondly, on Tuesday I chaired a schools debate in Parliament and the standard was exceptional. Top marks to speakers Riche Talabi, Aminat Adebayo, Jennifer Labwo, Eleftheria Varouhakis, Ian Hall and Catherine Saunders. But congratulations to young Rabi Niam, who won the debate by a cat’s whisker. It was a pleasure to meet you all. Dazzling Damian’s decency and the super-duper school debaters are a credit to democracy. Thanks for jazzing up my week guys.
LAST week there was a big demo outside Parliament, against dodgy Dutch MP Geert Wilders who turned up at the House of Lords to show his “film”. Unlike The Hurt Locker or Avatar, gruesome Geert’s film Fitma will never win an Oscar. It’s about how evil and nasty Muslims are and not surprisingly, this made many people go mental about him. When little Geertie arrived at Parliament, he was greeted by members of an equally curious bunch calling themselves the English Defence League. They think he’s good and want him to stay in England. Meanwhile,on the other side of the road anti-facists protested against Geertie boy. They stuck around for hours to shout and jeer him. Now, dear reader, you’re sensible. I doubt you lose sleep “worrying” about Muslims. So we should let Geertie show his film, then people can see what nonsense he’s on about. As for “foreigners?” someone might want to tell people who don’t like British Muslims that most are far more, er, BRITISH than wacky Wilders!
THOUSANDS of Swiss folk voted this week in a referendum about a very odd topic. The proposal was a new law allowing animals to be represented in court, with lawyers supplied by taxpayers!! If it was April Fool’s Day, you’d think I was yanking your lead. But this proposal was REAL! As it happens, the animal lovers lost the vote by about 70% to 30%. But if they’d won we would have seen some very interesting cases in the Swiss courts. Just imagine being sued by your guinea pig because you forgot to clean his hutch. Or being taken to the cleaners by your dog because you haven’t been taking him for “walkies” enough. And what would happen when a cat had a feast in the neighbour’s fish pond . . . could we see a murder trial? Switzerland has some very good laws to look after our furry, feathery and fishy pals. But if you think pets deserve state-appointed lawyers, you must be barking!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

No more Argy-bargy

Friday, February 26, 2010 by Daily Sport.

IF there’s one thing that comes between England and Argentina more than football, it’s the Falklands. The little islands, home to 3,000 plucky British folk, have always been claimed by Argentina. You may remember their invasionin 1982 which cost many British and Argentinian lives. Times have changed. But tensions soared again when a British oil company began drilling near the islands. The Argentinian government saw this as theft of their natural resources and issued angry statements telling the Brits to back off. Then a bunch of Latin American countries including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Mexico, came out for Argentina and said Britain should stop drilling and leave the Falklands completely!
British Defence Minister Bill Rammell has said the UK will take “whatever steps necessary” to protect the Falklands and Tories are calling for more navy vessels to be sent out there. Great. Let’s NOT have another war, PLEASE. Not many people know this, but the BBC TV show Celebrity Wipe Out is filmed in Argentina. Maybe we could get ministers from both governments to have a go at that to sort it out instead. It’s certainly a damn sight less insane than another war.
THERE’VE been rumours flying around about Gordon Brown and alleged bullying at Downing Street. Some ma’am called Christine Pratt (who runs the National Bullying Helpine) has been shooting her mouth off about staff from No 10 apparently feeling intimidated by their BOSS. She reckons Brown’s a bully. Really? I’ve always found Gordon to be a nice bloke in person. I just don’t buy the bullying thing. While bullying is bad in any workplace, reports should always be investigated quickly, fairly and thoroughly. But hanging him out to dry over some gossipy accusations seems nothing short of ludicrous. Those saying Gordo is a bully need to back up their claims with evidence. Instead, they’ve jumped on the bandwagon and kicked him about — just like bullies. But what isn’t acceptable is the head of an anti-bullying charity breaching professional privacy and spilling beans on what must have been private conversations. This Mrs Pratt has done exactly what bullies do – breached confidences and caused embarrassment and distress to others by shooting her mouth off in public. Whatever you think of Gordo, the one bully who should get the boot is her.
A LITTLE birdie told me my chums over at Conservative HQ have started buying the Daily Sport. Hurrah! It’s good to know “Camers & Co” have finally come over to the home of common sense. “Off-the-record,” I’m informed their conversion to the Sport is partly thanks to this very column. Apparently, Tory Towers have fallen in love with my musings each Friday. So here’s a big shout out to all the good folk working at Con HQ. Good on you boys! Whatever our political differences, it’s good we share the same GRRR-EAT! taste in the only paper you can trust. And if Dangerous Dave ends up as Prime Minister, maybe I can get an exclusive interview? That would be a winning formula for everyone. After all, there’s no better way on earth to get your political “meat and two veg” — with a bit of sauce!
UFO lovers got a treat this week when 24 top secret files, detailing close encounters, were released by the Ministry of Defence. The 6,000 pages shed some light on hundreds of sightings and investigations up and down Britain between 1994 and 2000. One of the most interesting sections was a report on a UFO seen hovering over the home of Tory MP Michael Howard! It seems a Scottish electrician spotted a triangle-shaped craft floating above Michael’s home for 40 minutes before flying off. He reported it to the MoD, who promptly collected all the details – including a diagram – and put it in their top secret archives. Was it really the mothership coming to do an alien abduction on Mr Howard and his Tory chums? Had the Scottish sparky had a few too many down the pub? Or could it be that the Labour Party paid Martians to kidnap the Tory top brass until after the General Election? If so, maybe Dangerous Dave can ask the little green men where Daily Sport stunna Janine McKee comes from. After all, it’s perfectly obvious she’s out of this world!
POLITICS in Northern Ireland got a blast from the past on Monday night when a huge car bomb exploded outside a court house in Newry. Coppers reckon the bomb, heard two miles away, was planted by rebel republicans. They want Northern Ireland to be united with the south. It’s a miracle no-one died. In the 70s and 80s bombs went off all the time and thousands were killed. The good news is things are different today. Most leaders, from both sides, are working with their enemies of yesteryear sorting out differences without bullets and bombs. Rebel groups now have little support. Politicians and citizens condemned it as cowardly, pointless and misguided. Violent groups are still around. But the province has turned a corner — and the people have made it clear they’re NEVER going back.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Whale we never get it right?

Friday, February 19, 2010 by Daily Sport.

IT’S that time of year again for a load of argy- bargy over the nasty practice of whaling. The Japanese fleet is currently on its annual hunt, sailing around the Antarctic looking to bump off Free Willy and his pals. And a bunch of activists from the group Sea Shepherd have been chasing them around, trying to save our giant friends. This year’s Whale War has been the roughest yet. The whaling fleet, which is backed by the Japanese government,has so far managed to sink one of the Sea Shepherd boats and kidnap a crew member. In response the eco-warriors have been using giant water cannons, speedboats and even a helicopter to harass the whaling vessels. Meanwhile, back in Japan, activists from the environmental group Greenpeace have been put on trial for trying to expose the truth behind the country’s whalemeat industry. Sadly, in the face of all this opposition, the government of Japan seems determined to carry on whaling. Personally, I think it’s cruel, irresponsible and totally unnecessary. Whales are intelligent creatures that are now sadly on the verge of becoming extinct. Sooner or later the whaling will stop. I just hope it’s because of pressure from activists, not because there aren’t any whales left to kill.
A FIERY Aussie politician by the name of Pauline Hanson will be packing her bags, saying goodbye to the “land-down-under” and emigrating to the UK this week. “So what?” I hear you cry! Well, the move has raised a few eyebrows because paranoid Pauline spent her whole political career campaigning against immigration. Back in the 90s she set up a die-hard nationalist party called “One Nation” and kicked up a huge stink about any “foreigners” moving to Australia. That makes it kind of ironic that she’s about to become an immigrant herself! Still, she never did do irony too well. “One Nation” claimed to be “defending Australian culture” from African and Asian people, overlooking the minor fact that the real native Australians were aborigines who had their culture destroyed by European settlers — Ms. Hanson’s ancestors. Perhaps she’s realised this and is returning to the UK to give Australia back to the aborigines. But somehow, I doubt it. It’s more likely that she’s just a hypocrite.
HOW much do you love politics? Obviously enough to read my column, but would you go as far as holding your wedding in Parliament? Within the next few weeks bookings will open for the first time and twenty lucky couples each year will be able to say “I do” and get hitched at the heart of British politics! It’s part of a scheme by my buddy, Speaker John Bercow, to make Parliament more open to the public. The first ceremony will be a Civil Partnership between Labour’s rising-star Chris Bryant and his boyfriend this May. Fair play to him—but isn’t getting married at the place you work a little over-keen? How many folk would want to spend their wedding day in the office, on the building site or in the supermarket? Still, I wish boisterous Bryant all many happy returns for his Big Day and hope that the service doesn’t get interrupted by a vote or something. As for any of you lot who fancy tying the knot with your better half — I recommend booking the Members Dining Room. It’s the better of the two venues available, with a smashing view of the Thames, and at eighty quid it’s a steal! Besides, last time my pal Keri Parker was here she loved the place —so if any Sport readers are thinking about trying their luck with the lovely Keri, the prospect of a parliamentary wedding might be a real turn-on. Just don’t tell any jokes about the members’ entrance and you might have a chance!
THERE were red faces in the Conservative party last weekend when one of their dodgy dossiers declared that in Britain’s poorest areas “54%” of under-18s are pregnant. The actual figure is 5.4%. But some Tory numpty missed out the decimal point, leaving the report telling a very different story and putting Dangerous Dave Cameron & Co on the statistical back foot! You’d think that the party officials responsible for checking the document would have twigged that, tough things may be in deprived areas, the majority of teenagers are not preggers. I mean, if you think about it, for 54% of them to be pregnant,someof theboys would have to be up-the-duff too! What’s even worse than the original cock-up is that the Tories are now defending their mistake! One spokesman said that the error “made no difference” to the report. Really? So if we offered them a 5.4% pay-cut or a 54% paycut they wouldn’t care? Or if the Tories lose 5.4% of their votes or 54% of their votes at the next election that wouldn’t change anything? These Tory Boys want us to put them in charge of the economy. On the basis of this little tale,that idea has just got 54% more worrying.

Brown is looking in the pink

Friday, February 12, 2010 by Daily Sport.

IT’S beginning to look like the understated and sometimes grumpy looking giant—also known as Gordon Brown—is beginning to limber up to the challenging task of trying to win the next election after all. In a spirited performance in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Flash Gordon took on Dangerous Dave and, in my view at least, actually did a rather better job. It wasn’t so much the content of what he was saying. Frankly, half the time Prime Minister’s Questions is about as informative as an edition of Celebrity Wife Swap. But you can tell how people are feeling about themselves by how they come across. And, by the looks of it, Gordy’s beginning to feel a bit more like winning. On the other hand, I have to confess that my own boss man, Nick Clegg, also had a better day. He sounded rather statesmanlike, which made me happy. When he does well, it’s good news for my OWN chances of re-election! However, the less pretty thing about PMQ’s was the huge amount of shouting and jeering. If you made THAT much noise in a pub, you’d get arrested. Unfortunately, some of the other MPs seem to think it’s a “good look” and acted as if they’re extras on Men Behaving Badly. So, a good day for the leaders. But as for the general behaviour of the House, if this is the best we can do, it might be time for the “Mother of Parliaments” to sack the Speaker and employ a nanny instead. I suppose that’s what they mean by a “Nanny State”.
Sign of the times
ON Tuesday Tory leader David Cameron proposed a bold new addition to British politics. He reckons if a petition can collect 10,000 signatures it should be debated in the House of Commons. And if it gets 1,000,000 signatures, its organisers should have the right to draft a law which MPs will vote on. It’s a step up on Labour’s scheme, which introduced an online service to create petitions to the Prime Minister. Although Gordo reads and responds to the ones with most signatures, at the moment they don’t have any formal power and usually end up as being in the government’s “so what” out-tray. But if Dave and chums win the election and go ahead with their petition plan we’re likely to end up with some pretty odd debates. After all, it’s worth remembering that over 10,000 people — including my oddball staff member “Wild Bill” Bruton — recorded their faith as “Jedi” at the last Census. And loads of folks believe UFOs have landed on earth. It also means if the 1.1 million people who read the Daily Sport signed a petition for a law which made Sport stunna Bailey the Prime Minister to make PMQs more attractive, Cameron’s OWN policy would get him fired! Dangerous Dave might think again.
WE always hear the bad news about our society. So here’s a good news story about an upstanding citizen who Did The Right Thing when it mattered. There’s a fellow called Dan Mardell who knows a thing or two about computers. A few weeks ago, he came across my phone in rather “questionable circumstances,” after I’d accidentally dropped it on the road. Someone else picked it up and, without putting too fine point on it, decided to take the phone with him and show it to other people, instead of catching me up or handing it in. Unfortunately for that chappie, Dan’s honest and happens to go out with a police officer. I had my phone back by the end of the day. Dan’s assistance reunited me with the said device in a most fortunate and helpful manner. Thanks Dan, you’re a hero. And to the person who could have given me the phone back in the first place when he saw me drop it: next time, don’t be a plonker — hand it in!
MOST cigar-lovers are prepared to splash out a bit of cash for a decent puff. But few would be willing to shell out £4,500 for a half-smoked dog end. But that’s exactly what one collector did this week! But this cigar end was very special. Its previous owner was none other than Winston Churchill. He’d been having a quick smoke before sitting down to plan the defence of the Free World - but didn’t get a chance to finish his whole cigar. A Downing Street worker picked up what was left as a souvenir! Auctioneers expected the famous fag to fetch around 300 quid. They were taken by surprise when it went for over 10 times that amount. I’m sure Winston would have been pleased too. A couple of years ago a bottle of bubbly belonging to a certain Mister Hitler only fetched a few hundred at auction.

I'd snub Blair again

Saturday, February 06, 2010 by Daily Sport.

DID you watch any of Blair’s appearance at the Iraq inquiry? The former PM faced a gruelling six-hour session. During that time he was questioned about everything from his relationship with George Bush to his feelings on Saddam Hussein. Tricky Tony answered in a calm and composed way before wrapping up by declaring that he had NO regrets about going to war and that he’d do it again. Woah,that’s controversial stuff Mr Blair, especially since nearly 200 British soldiers and over 90,000 Iraqi civilians died in the conflict. Still, you’ve got to give it to Tony, he’s stuck to his principles. He hasn’t backed down or tried to pass the buck to someone else.He just continues to declare that Saddam would have posed a massive threat to world peace and was a “monster” who needed to be removed. Shame none of the evidence shows he had ANY weapons of mass destruction. At all. I say the war was a mistake. I voted against it back in 2003 and I’d do that again. No one denies Saddam was a bad bugger. But there were better ways of dealing with him than following bumbling Bush with troops, tanks and no plan for what to do after we’d toppled the dodgy dictator. Despite the good things he did, Tony will always be remembered for the UK’s biggest foreign policy cock-up in the late 20th century. The focus now should be on the future. We should make sure Iraq has the support it needs to rebuild. Then maybe we can start to make amends for these colossal and deadly blunders.
SPACE lovers the world over were gutted last week when President Barack Obama pulled the plug on the US “Constellation” space programme. The project – launched by George W Bush in 2003 – aimed to put men back on the moon by 2020 and kick-start the space race to Mars. But the new President didn’t like the way things were going over at NASA and canned Constellation even though more than five billion dollars had already been spent on it! Obama now wants private companies to step in. That means instead of shuttles being launched by NASA, who have an imperfect but reasonable record stretching back decades, we could see the likes of “EasyShuttle” and “Ryanspace” launching folk into orbit. I like Obama but he’s made the wrong call here. This century will almost certainly see humans on Mars, developments at the international space station and an exciting space race with China. But it won’t be a contest if the US government isn’t prepared to go all the way with big-deal projects. Cancelling Constellation is a real blow to space exploration, but there may be a final twist in the tale. A group of courageous Congressmen are getting together to try to save the programme by scuppering Obama’s plans. If they get enough support he may have a real fight on his hands and the Leader of the Free World may end up saying: “Houston, I have a problem!” And unless he does change his mind, I bet the next moon visitors will be chewing chow mein instead of biting into a Burger King. As defeats go, that would be a Double Whopper... with cheese!
ON Tuesday US firm Kraft finally completed its long-expected takeover of Cadbury. This kicked off a whole heap of controversy for a ton of reasons. First off, a lot of folk see Cadbury as a great British institution that should stay in British hands, instead of some US multinational. Secondly, some are saying Britain should recover from recession by investing in its companies and not flogging them off. And most importantly, workers worry their jobs will be axed to pay off Kraft’s massive debts. I’m inclined to agree with these concerns. It’s important to let businesses make their own business decisions, but will Kraft really do Cadbury any favours? The government should make sure the jobs are safe and Kraft should make sure they respect what Cadbury means to Britain. For a lot of people Cadbury is about far more than Wispas, Crunchies and Dairy Milk, it’s about history, pride and a lot of people’s livelihoods. It may be about
sweets,but the takeover stands to leave a very bitter taste.
ARGENTINEAN President Cristina Fernandez found a novel way of boosting her country’s pork industry this week – by claiming that it is better for your sex life than Viagra! Cheeky Cristina floated her theory at a meeting of major pig farmers and even revealed that she and her husband had enjoyed a particularly raunchy weekend after eating a lot of pork. Argies are the world’s biggest consumers of beef so their pork industry often suffers as a result.A lot of folk reckon that the president’s idea will now give it a much needed lift. I guess the only losers are those in the Viagra industry who will probably suffer when everyone starts switching to pork chops. But we all know that the situation would be a lot different if you could buy the Daily Sport in Argentina. When it comes to waking up next to Hannah Owens versus a bacon sandwich, which would you prefer?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Happy-clappy Lembit applauds his new relationship with God

From the Western Mail:

HE has been characterised as much for his relationships with pop stars and underwear models as he has for his politics.

But Lembit Opik revealed last night to the Western Mail he has formed a new relationship that he believes will last a lifetime – with God.

The Montgomeryshire MP said although he has believed in God as a “life force” since childhood, he turned to religion to help him through his “darkest hour” late last year.


“Some people will say, ‘How can Lembit be a Christian with the way he lives his life?’,” he said.

“But rather than getting angry and seeking an eye for an eye, I just let it go and think about what Jesus would have done and think there is a generosity of spirit in everyone.

“To an atheist I would say, ‘How do you know you are right?’.

“Even in my darkest hour God was never far away – he was keeping a watching brief.”

Meanwhile, Lembit has also been interviewed by the Shropshire Star:

Exploding pigs cannot save our bacon

THERE was outrage this week when it was revealed government anti-terrorism experiments involved blowing up LIVE pigs! The explosive tests at a secret military research lab in Wiltshire, were to examine how to help British soldiers in Afghanistan and victims of terrorist attacks like the 2005 London bombings.But there was an outcry when folk found out that the experiments included wiring up pigs up to explosives then blowing them to kingdom come. Scientists claim the pigs were sedated and that the results could help to save lives. But others aren’t convinced. My MP pal Norman Baker called the process “revolting and unnecessary”. He made the point that — unfortunately — we already have enough examples of the horror caused by terrorist bombs. But the main problem is that however many pigs we incinerate, this isn’t going to solve the basic problem. The real solution to terrorism is for us to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan. So, instead of wiping out the pig population, let’s stop provoking the Afghan population It would be better for us to bring an end to a military operation which is both illegal and unwinnable and which never had a chance of being successful from Day One. The Daily Sport has had the courage to stand up and be counted. How many more deaths must there be, and how many terrorist attacks must we risk, before other newspapers, and MPs, wake up to this basic and inescapable fact?
HAVE you heard of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono? No, I thought not. He’s Indonesia’s president-come pop star and he’s just released his third album! Despite falling popularity, tough economic challenges and ongoing criticism of his government’s treatment of tribal people, the pop-loving Pres has still found time to record the nine-track album, which he made in collaboration with other artists, including the winner of Indonesian Idol. Mr. Yudhoyono writes his songs while on foreign visits or sitting in the presidential palace. Although he doesn’t do live concerts he’s been known to sing at his election rallies. His latest masterpiece is the immodestly named song I’m Certain I’ll Make It — an optimistic title by any politician’s standards! If Gordon Brown recorded an album I’m not so sure he’d be quite as confident. He would probably call it “Poisoned Chalice” or “The End Is Near”! Then again, if he collaborated with pop beauties like Katie Perry or Lily Allen then his election campaign song is obvious – “The Only Way Is Up!”
HERE’S a quick history lesson for you: until 1558 the French city of Calais was ruled by England. “So what?” I hear you cry. Well, recently, the plucky city-folk have been re-establishing their reputation as “England’s southern-most point” to cash in on the 2012 Olympic Games. City authorities, hotel owners and businessmen have figured that using the high-speed channel tunnel link, the two-hour journey from Calais to London is just as quick as travelling from one end of London to the other. So they’re investing £80 million on places for athletes to train and spectators to stay. They’ve already secured contracts with teams from Uzbekistan, Senegal and Chad (though, funnily enough, not from France), and they’re eagerly looking for more. Some Calais-based businessmen have even revealed that they were secretly rooting for London to beat Paris in the Olympic bid because the UK capital is nearer to them. The city bosses say they’re not trying to compete with English training facilities but they are promoting their involvement — dubbed Mission 2012 — by promising teams who train in Calais will win in London. That’s a big statement to make — but if Uzbekistan conquer London they’ll have done better than Napoleon ever did!
WELL that’s it, folks! At long last the UK is officially out of recession. Figures released this week show our economy has finally started to grow again. And unemployment has dropped for the first time in 18 months. That’s a good sign. But it’s still going to take the country a while to get back on its feet. The UK is the last big economy to come out of the recession. France, Germany, Japan and the USA all started improving last year. And our comeback so far hasn’t been as good as experts predicted. Although it’s no longer shrinking, the UK economy has grown by just a measly 0.1%. That would mean that a business that was worth £10,000 is now worth £10,010 — it’s not very much is it? If that’s not bad enough there are still over two million folks out of work and the country has a whopping collective debt of 800 billion quid! After the worst economic battering in decades we’re going to be feeling the effects for a long time yet. Being told the recession “is officially over” is little consolation to people who lost their jobs, businesses and homes. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but whoever wins the next election has a massive job to get the UK back on-track.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Real hell in Haiti

WE complain about all kinds of things here in the UK, traffic jams, the weather, the price of food, overcrowded trains. Well, ALL that is nothing compared to the troubles in Haiti. The devastating earthquake left more than 100,000 people dead and the entire country in ruins. Water supplies, houses and hospitals have all been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands are at risk of starvation or dehydration. And many of the injured are simply lying in the street with no medical help and nowhere to go. It’s one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. The world’s response has been tremendous. Food,water, troops, rescue workers, engineers, vehicles and medical supplies have been flooding in from around the globe. Amazingly, old foes have put their differences aside to help. For the first time bolshie Cuba has allowed US aircrafts to fly through its airspace so they can reach Haiti faster. The UK public have donated more than £23 million. British charities like Oxfam, CAFOD and Christian Aid are pulling out all the stops to get relief to the people who need it most. There are even British firefighters out in Haiti, searching for survivors and helping with the rescue work. That’s a true human good news story. But it doesn’t take away from the catastrophe. With the ports damaged and roads destroyed loads more people will die. On top of this, a lot of the United Nations workers based in Haiti were killed in the quake so the relief effort has taken a real battering. As if things weren’t bad enough,a strong aftershock on Wednesday wrecked even more buildings and hampered rescue work further still. So here’s mychallenge to all you: if you haven’t donated yet, cut out a couple of pints down the boozer on Friday, log on to and give a few quid to the appeal. By converting your ale into aid, you’re actually going to save yourself a hangover and save some lives in Haiti. If every Sport reader chucks in a fiver that’s over five million quid. We can make a REAL difference—and I hope we do.
DID you hear about that lucky family who won 26 million quid on the lottery this week? It’s more dramatic than the lottery to win tickets for the 80 places to watch former Prime Minister Tony Blair give evidence at the Iraq War inquiry. He’s the Star Witness. The lucky winners will watch Tricky Tony being grilled on why he led the country into a war that killed British soldiers and Iraqi civilians and cost billions. I don’t know what he’ll say,but I’m pretty sure he won’t say “Sorry, I got it wrong” or “We did it for the oil” or “Saddam was asking for it.” But how on earth can he make good the worst decision of his political career? I like Tony.He’s decent, friendly and smart. Which makes it all the stranger he committed us to a war which wiped out hundreds of thousands of lives. If you had the choice of a ticket for the Blair session or the lottery ticket which won the £26m, which would you choose? IF Tony comes clean at the inquiry, it would be a priceless moment in British politics. But what are the chances of that? Put it this way, I’d take the money . . .
THERE’S a storm in Israel at the moment surrounding sexy lingerie model Bar Rafaeli. Busty Bar, famous for her raunchy photo shoots and on-off relationship with actor Leo DiCaprio, is getting flack off the Israeli army for dodging military service! Israel is the only country in the world where women, as well as men, have to do a compulsory stint in the forces. But they can get out of it if they’re married. So the fetching Ms Rafaeli married a man friend, got exempt for the draft, then got a divorce! Cunning. Now the army are calling for a boycott of her products and fellow supermodel Esti Ginzberg — who did do her military service — has joined in the criticism. I don’t know how good a soldier she’d be. Perhaps they should set up a platoon specifically recruiting ladies like Bar and Esti. They’d certainly be model soldiers who’d excel on the front.
THE UK Independence party caused a rumpus this week by calling for a total ban on women wearing burkas. They say this piece of clothing – which completely covers a Muslim lady’s face – is a sign of a “divided Britain”. No, no, no! The fact people are allowed to wear their own religious clothes shows just how tolerant and inclusive Britain is. If we use UKIP’s logic to ban burkas we’ll have to follow it up with a ban on turbans, skull-caps, crucifixes and whatever it is that Jedi Knights wear. We might as well go even further and just give everyone a string vest, rolled up trousers and a hanky for their head so that we can all look “British”. Diversity is the spice of life – it’s one of the things that makes Britain a good place to be. It might be okay to ask people to take off face coverings when they enter a bank or passport control. But
you’d need to be a berk to ban the burka!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Here's to you Mrs Robinson

AS you probably know, Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson had an affair. The press went bonkers about it because, like in the film The Graduate, Mrs Robinson had got friendly with a much younger chap. This time it wasn’t Dustin Hoffman, but Kirk McCambley – who was 19 at the time. The fiery politician is married to Peter Robinson, head of the Northern Irish Assembly. Some claim that she was involved in financial wheeling and dealing too. Irate Iris is quitting the politics game, and her husband hasn’t managed to dodge the flak either. Poor Peter’s stepped down as boss of the Assembly for the next six weeks while things get sorted out. But is it fair? No! It’s easy – and dopey – to simply ogle an MP’s private life and pretend that it’s about politics. But why the hell should the Robinsons’ marital matters be splashed over the papers as if it’s the biggest story on earth? Iris’ affair is between her and her husband and should not be treated like an episode of EastEnders. And as for the financial stuff, unless we’re now all expected to grass on each other – and our partners – it’s unreasonable to expect Mr Robinson to be his wife’s keeper. Whatever you think of Iris, the current feeding frenzy is more about political journalists who can’t resist a bit of sex gossip. So they dress it up as “political” when 80 per cent of it is tittle tattle. After all, consider this: If a journalist’s wife was caught having an affair with someone else, would the journo resign? Of course not! So stop the hypocrisy guys. Happily, this fine paper took a much more balanced view. For fair reporting you can always trust Daily Sport. And as for my friends Peter and Iris, my advice is: “Don’t give up!”
LAST week I predicted Flash Gordon Brown would survive the Labour party “rebellion’” with ease. I’m pleased to report that – unlike some other pundits – I was absolutely right. The ill-fated coup by ex-ministers Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt was about as successful as a papier mache submarine. Even the Titanic got further on its voyage before sinking – it lasted a few days, while the Hoon-Hewitt collective, hit their political iceberg after just 90 minutes. So Gordo’s still going strong in No.10, Hoon and Hewitt are in the doghouse and the doom-mongers have had to eat their words. However, I fear Gordon’s biggest challenge is still to come. Beating off a few disgruntled backbench MPs was easy enough – but seeing off Davey Cameron and his likely lads in the General Election could prove to be a little bit tougher. Still, the Conservatives were telling anyone who’ll listen that Labour is weak and divided so the Tories ought to win. But I’m not so sure. Last week’s developments showed Gordon’s a fighter and his Cabinet is indeed behind him. So the only real certainty from this episode is that Brown, Cameron and Clegg WILL lead their parties into the Election. Who’ll win is a prediction I’m not making – yet.
I BELIEVE politics and sport should be kept separate. Sadly, once again that hope was smashed by a shower of bullets when gunmen opened fire on the Togo football team bus. It carried top players like Manchester City’s Adebayor to the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola. The ambush left people wounded and killed. The group responsible is called FLEC. They’re “rebels” fighting for independence for the small Angolan region of Cabinda. In truth, there are some real concerns about how the Angolan Government treats Cabinda. But murdering athletes is a total own goal. The Togo footballers have nothing to do with politics. The attacks raise worries about the safety of athletes, especially in the run-up to this summer’s football World Cup in South Africa. Older readers will recall the 1972 Olympics when terrorists murdered Israeli athletes. More recently, there was terror in cricket when the Sri Lankan team came under attack in Pakistan. When we kick off in South Africa, the focus must be football not politics. That way, regardless of who lifts the trophy on July 11, the tournament will bring the world together, not shoot us apart.
WE’RE through the worst of it folks – or are we? After weeks of frozen roads, closed schools, cancelled trains, salt shortages, abandoned cars and panic buying, the country began to thaw. Then a new deluge came down midweek and it was all white again! People are criticising how badly the UK coped with the snow and ice, but I think we did OK. Communities rallied together to look after the old and ill, while our emergency services worked 24/7 to help. In true Dunkirk spirit, we pulled through. It could even could lead to a reality show – “The Ice-Factor”. Amazingly, over in the USA, sub-zero temperatures didn’t stop folk from celebrating “No Trousers on the Tube Day”. This bizarre occasion sees thousands of commuters ride the tube in their undies Would that work here as a Government initiative? Well, it could be motivating. The hope of seeing Gemma Massey like that on the Bakerloo Line could increase the number of lads commuting to work on the London Underground when it’s below zero. It would certainly bring new meaning to the phrase “Boob Tube”!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Year we go again

SO that’s it folks— tonight we’ll be seeing off 2009 with a load of fireworks, champagne and hugs with random strangers! How’s the year been for you? Politically it’s been one of the most bumpy in a long time! We lost more than a hundred troops in Afghanistan, faced a political crisis over MP’s expenses and sunk into the worst recession for years. Dictators like Robert Mugabe have survived another year and there were riots at the G20 summit and protests at the Copenhagen summit. But nothing really changed — the poor are still poor and we’re still wrecking our planet. All the while most papers were focussing on cheap shots at MPs rather than the real political issues. But there have been some good bits too! We saw off the back of George Bush and the arrival of Barack Obama. Mr.O hasn’t changed the world overnight, but he’s full of promise and things in the USA are beginning to look a bit brighter. Back here,my mate John Bercow became Speaker of the House of Commons and is starting to sort out British politics. Other brilliant moments included the decision to let retired Ghurkas stay in the UK after a campaign led by Joanna Lumley and the Liberal Democrats! So what about 2010? Well I know what I’d like to see — British withdrawal from Afghanistan and a decent deal on climate change. Will either of them happen? Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain. There’ll be a general election, probably on May 6th. And if it all goes wrong at least we’ll still have the pain of losing the World Cup to look forward to! Hope you all have a happy new year.
ON Christmas Eve, just as Pope Benedict was about to host Mass for a few thousand Catholics, a crazy girlie jumped past his security and pulled him to the ground. It was a violent attack which left a Cardinal injured but didn’t hurt the elderly Pope. It came just a week after another angry nutter managed to get close to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – breaking his teeth and his cheekbone. Incidents like this show the risks that high profile public figures take. A good leader needs to be able to get close to his people, not separated by a thousand bodyguards and a sheet of bulletproof glass. But by doing so it’s never possible for security to keep them 100% safe and they take the chance that loonies will get them. I say fair play to the Pope and to Berlusconi! They’ve shown they care enough about their people to risk their own safety. I don’t envy their position. Thankfully most attacks I’ve had to face are written ones from odd journalists like BBC reporter Vaughan Roderick. While his snipes and one-sided reporting are as irrational as a punch in the face, they’re unprofessional rather than painful. But what connects all these people is an inability to connect with their target in a grown-up and sensible way. It would be nice to think they’ll all wise up in 2010 but I doubt it.
HOMELESS folk around Blackfriars Bridge in London got a shock the other night when they noticed none other than Prince William roughing it in a sleeping bag and woolly hat! The Prince hadn’t been kicked out of Buck House for playing his music too loud – he was trying to experience life on the streets and raise awareness for homelessness charity Centrepoint. Willy accepts that he can never get the full homeless experience. Most people slumming it on the streets don’t have a comfy palace to go home to or an MI5 agent watching their back. But still, he got a taster of the cold, discomfort and destitution that thousands in the UK face every night. And instead of dashing home at the first opportunity he finished off his night on the street by cooking breakfast for a group of young people at a Centrepoint shelter. Good on him! One day he’ll be King and it’s great to know he cares about people on the other end of the spectrum. Now all that’s left for me to say is a Happy New Year to all my readers and I look forward to a lot more fun with you all in 2010 (and maybe a couple of Daily Sport stunnas too!)
HAVE you put on a few pounds over Christmas? With all the turkey, mince pies and boozing it’s no surprise that we all gain an extra couple of inches round the waist! And personally I reckon that’s a good thing. My extremely good friend Katie Green and I are campaigning against the bizarre phenomenon of size zero models and their promotion of eating disorders. And we’re ready to take the fight into 2010! What better place to start than with festive food? Everyone, especially young people, should be enjoying their meals and eating healthily – not panicking about whether that extra roast potato will make them bigger than Kate Moss. So if your missus is going on a crash diet or your sister is starving herself to lose the Christmas pounds, just point her in the direction of Katie! The rate at which her 2010 calendars are flying off the shelves proves that ditching diets and putting on a few pounds hasn’t done her any harm!