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.