UK General Election: A Case for Corbyn, Please, No More Boris

Case Closed on Boris and the Conservative Party

The Conservative Party has had ten years of power and it is time for the UK electorate to trust something else.

The Conservative governments of this decade have been insensitive, hateful, reckless, deceitful and smug. The austerity measures they enabled has created the kind of poverty not seen for generations and it is time the UK elects a government that will bring some justice to those who were mistreated by the Conservatives.

Boris Johnson cannot be trusted to lead the UK. From his early days as a journalist he never has been one for honesty. The UK can ill afford to allow someone with Boris’ iffy track record in Downing Street for the next 4-5 years

What has protected Boris from deeper scrutiny and harsher criticism is his long standing connections across the media landscape who have created a solid firewall since he became Mayor of London in 2008.

Boris Johnson has put together a dangerous right wing cabinet. Any cabinet that has the likes of Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Zac Goldsmith, Esther McVey and Priti Patel should be of concern to the public.

How can anyone vote for Boris after – as Mayor of London – after he sold off London’s Olympic Village (5000 homes) to the Qatari royal family?

UK tax payers money had built those homes they were earmarked for affordable homes for Londoners until Boris and his mob got their oleaginous hands on them.

Never been has someone held 3 of the great positions in UK public life (Mayor of London, Foreign Secretary and PM) and not prove themselves effective at any of them. I dare anymore to name one decent achievement for Boris at the Foreign Office.

[“(Mayor) Boris  was a poor manager, administrator and politician, apart from the campaigning, which he’s brilliant at, and the same thing is happening at the Foreign Office. What you hear from officials there is that there’s no direction, there are no ideas, it’s all chaos and he doesn’t care, but nor does he seem competent to do anything about it.” – Sonia Purnell, 2012]

Johnson is living proof that there are some people who do not need to work hard to achieve important positions in British public life.

In the short time Boris has been PM he broke the law and even lied to the Queen when he suspended parliament for his own selfish plans. Yet still he was allowed to remain PM.

The idea of a shyster duo Boris Johnson and Donald Trump committing UK troops/resources to wars to suit their financial benefactors – such as a the Saudi royal family –  is too much for me to contemplate.

Let’s Get Boris Gone by Friday morning.

Conservative Manifesto

The Conservative manifesto is well crafted and yet it is thing on detail. But you can smell the stench of further cuts and outsourcing coming if Boris wins on Thursday.

Some of the pledges in the manifesto include.

  1. “NHS is not for sale.” (Brand NHS may not be for sale but areas of the health and social care sector have been contracted out private companies and charities throughout this decade.)
  2. “That is why qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with a job offer from the NHS, who have been trained to a recognised standard and who have good working English, will be offered fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and dedicated support to come to the UK with their families.”
  3. Deliver more school places for children with complex Special Educational Needs.
  4. Introduce tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes.
  5. “Use our new freedoms after Brexit to prevent more foreign national offenders entering our country. We will cut the number of foreign nationals in our prisons,”
  6. “Introduce a firmer and fairer Australian-style points-based immigration system” (every govt since the 1990s has promised this. Just would not work),
  7. “Attract the best and brightest from all over the world.”
  8. “There will be fewer lower-skilled migrants and overall numbers will come down. And we will ensure that the British people are always in control” (Govts always say this and then realise the British won’t perform certain jobs. How often has anyone seen an English born person cleaning office buildings or are security guards in city centre stores?)
  9. “We will maintain our support for a memorial recognising the contribution of the Windrush Generation in a prominent site in London. (Stuff the gesture and compensate the Windrush victims. Hubert Howard sadly died last month and had not received his compensation)
  10. “Double the maximum prison term to 14 years for individuals convicted of the most egregious examples of tax fraud.” (Again, what about those in the banking sector?).
  11. “To support free speech, we will repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014, which seeks to coerce the press. We will not proceed with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry.” (Another reason why the phone hacking media is backing Boris)

I am still baffled by the number of Labour supporters willing to back Boris Johnson  because of one topic (BREXIT) despite disagreeing with the Conservatives on everything else.

Corbyn 4 Decades On

In 2015, if I was given 600 guesses on which MP could one day be prime minister I would never have mentioned Jeremy Corbyn.

Not because Corbyn is not PM material. But in the 30+ years I have known and observed Corbyn’s political career he never once hinted at such lofty positions. He always concentrated his endeavours on social justice.

Corbyn as leader in the past 24 months has evolved. I have been one of Corbyn’s harshest critics over the way he remained placid despite the personal attacks on him by fellow Labour colleagues. But Jeremy has done it in his unusual calm way.

Since becoming leader Corbyn has faced mass resignations from his shadow cabinet from the Blairite and Brownite wings. Many felt such concerted moves would force Corbyn into resigning as well. But Jeremy held his ground and used these departures to promote some of the newer intakes of Labour MPs to the shadow front bench.

Some of these fresher shadow members have shown great potential including the likes of as Laura Pidcock and Rebecca Long Bailey. Seasoned MPs such as John Healy and Barry Gardiner have come out from the backbench wilderness and found their voice.

Unlike some of his predecessors Corbyn has shown a propensity to listen and act accordingly. Take BREXIT for example. Everybody knows Corbyn has been anti-EU long before anyone heard of Nigel Farage. Corbyn accepted the results but he has listened and appreciated that a better exit deal could be achieved with the EU which would have long term benefits for future generations.

Corbyn has also attracted more young people to politics and that is significant for the Labour Party going forward.

Jeremy has held his own in the debates and in final head to head with Boris last Friday put in his best performance. Corbyn didn’t get to where he is by being some tv act like his main rival  but he stucked to the issues important to Labour.

Jeremy has fronted up during the campaign and not hid as Boris has done constantly.

Labour’s Manifesto

The Labour manifesto was a surprise. Labour’s pledges are big, bold, humane, and generational. The centrepiece of Labour’s pledges rest around tackling issues on  climate change, environment, social care, crime, poverty, council housing, homelessness, education and health.

Some of the less headline grabbing pledges include:

  1. Maternity leave extended to 12 months and paternity leave to 4 weeks.
  2. “4 new bank holidays to mark the 4 patron saints”
  3. Remove unnecessary restriction on industrial action. (hmmm)
  4. Compensate Windrush victims swiftly.
  5. “Scrap the 2014 Immigration Act 2014” (Immigration and Customs needs its own Cabinet Minister/Dept away from the Home Office)
  6. “Abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected Senate of the Nation and the Regions” (BREXIT Party would also abolish the House of Lords)
  7. Ban political donation from tax avoiders and tax evaders
  8. Extend Freedom of Information to cover private providers of public services. (Definitely needed to for those private social care providers and detention centres)
  9. Allow the people of the Chagos Islands and their descendants to return to their home. (Now that will cause a rift with the current US military occupiers)
  10. Suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia (for use in Yemen) and Israel (used in violation of human rights of Palestinian civilians)
  11. Abolish prescription charges in England (Already scrapped in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales)
  12. Commit an extra £1.5bn to ensure new standards for mental health are enshrined in the NHS.

Labour’s plan to renationalise certain sectors may prove challenging, as the fine prints in existing contracts could make such intentions too expensive to fulfill.

But a Labour government must bring back water into public ownership.

Gordon Brown, where have you been?

Former Labour PM, Gordon Brown called Corbyn ” a phenomenon” during an interview with the BBC’s anti-Jeremy-click-bait correspondent – Laura Kuenssberg* – where he agrees with Corbyn on social justice.

If only Gordon have intervened earlier then maybe Jeremy would not have faced the constant attacks from the Brownite wing of the Labour Party.

Smears on Steroids

With the polls said to be tightening the smear machine against Corbyn is in full flow with the much disgraced Tony Blair and former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove leading to attacks. What has been unacceptable is the enablers at BBC who are amplifying such smears and clearly showing their own bias. Even the BBC World Service has joined in the smear campaign.

One of the key reasons for this all out attack by former Labour figures such as Blair is to prevent a Corbyn government from accessing sensitive information regarding some of the more shameful actions of recent UK governments.

It is likely that a Corbyn government would be more obliging in responding  to Freedom of Information requests on issues such as

  • Contract agreements with outsourced companies when tax subsidies were given,
  • Saudi bribery allegations,
  • Rendition and torture of Libyans led by the CIA with UK support,
  • Background to the detention of Julian Assange,
  • Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan (Washington Post today released government documents which revealed the Bush, Obama and Trump govts consistently lied to the public about their progress in Afghanistan. No doubt the UK govt officials such as Blair went along with this false and costly narrative – Afghanistan papers)

Morning of Friday December 13th – Nightmare or Euphoria?

I just hope Corbyn can convince enough voters to form at least a coalition government.

A good way to start the decade is for Boris Johnson to ride off into the West London early sunset and back to reading teleprompters at Have I Got News for You.

Let’s get Boris gone.

Further reading:

*Today, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg just couldn’t help herself once again in pushing more anti Labour digs:

 

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later on ….

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GB Election 2019: The Fountainhead in Farage

You have to hand it to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage though. The man has made a successful cottage industry for himself and complete fools of many of us with his fight against the EU. The man has cemented his tag as the UK’s anti-EU bogey man for the political class.

The cult that is Faragism was created thanks to his record number of TV appearances (33) on BBC’s Question Time since the early 2000s. Even when you think he is getting out of politics for good, the man makes a sudden u-turn and maximise his selfishness to soothe that mega-ego of his.

Farages oratory is pitch perfect. His persuasive  arguments are put in the simplest and clearest tone and it works a treat. Farage has rattled then PM’s Tony Blair, David Cameron and Theresa May; leaving them scrabbling for the right words to match his deliberations. Blair’s government advisers in particular always went into a tizzy at the sound of any EU “outrage” bellowed by Nige in media land.

But Farage has managed pool support from leading far right and socialist leaning figures in his drive for a speedy BREXIT, which is no mean feat.

Current PM Boris Johnson has made countless overtures to appease the wrath of Nige. Farage has been in a self congratulatory mood lately. Nige felt that the Conservative Party has included in its current manifesto some of his long held ideas from when he was leader (2006-2016) of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

In the fall out over the BREXIT debacle Farage has been the one real winner.

  • He was given his own weekday radio (very popular) show on LBC in London. He’s presented the show from Brussels and US.
  • He has made countless TV appearances in the UK and on Fox News in the US.
  • He was quick to get on the right side of Donald Trump ahead of the US 2016 presidential elections and has now achieved Trump-most -favoured status.

Despite his anti-EU stances Nige has managed to get elected as a MEP in a place he purports to hate and gets paid handsomely for it. It’s like watching one of those old British comedy farces from Ealing Studios.

[British voters have this knack for making some unorthodox choices in the name of democracy. During the 2002 Hartlepool mayoral election a football club mascot called H’Angus the Monkey was the victor. So voting for a party that hates the EU to work in Brussels makes perfect British sense.]

Farage has thrived on catchy themes: “independence day from the EU” and “taking back control” and “get BREXIT done”. But Nige you cheeky “Arthur Daley” mucker, the UK controls next to nothing of real substance anymore that’s on home soil.

[Arthur Daley was a 1980s TV character from the comedy series “Minder”. Daley was a lovable rogue, a wordsmith “in his own lobster” who was pro-Maggie Thatcher and anti-EU]

The UK arms manufacturers, banks, utility companies, airports, supermarkets, landmark properties, media and major football clubs are mostly owned by overseas companies and other countries. Even many of the buildings where UK civil servants are based are now owned by overseas registered companies who pay little tax.

A sizable chunk of the UK’s prized former publicly owned assets is owned by governments of China, Canada, New Zealand, UAE, Qatar, France, Brunei, Norway, South Korea, Singapore and Bahrain,

  • Norway has investment upwards of $6.5bn in some of the most attractive real estate across the UK.
  • In 2013 Kuwait had up to $24bn of assets in the UK.
  • Qatar government owns at least $45bn of assets in the UK.
  • Electricity firms N Power & E .ON are owned by German companies. EDF Energy is owned by the French government.
  • Thames Water’s largest shareholders are the governments of Canada (23%), UAE (9.9%) China (8.7%) and Kuwait (8.5%). Thames Water will defer a potential £3.75m bonus for its chief executive Steve Robertson (salary – £745,000) until 2020.
  • New Scotland Yard building is owned by the UAE govt through the Abu Dhabi Financial Group
  • Even Trump’s Commerce Secretary -Wilbur Ross- and the Qatari govt own chunks of arms manufacturer BAE Systems.
  • British Telecom’s largest shareholder is the German based company T-Mobile Holdings Ltd
  • We could go on..

Yet most of the above countries mentioned have tight patriotic restrictions on the sale of their key assets to potential foreign investors. e.g. In August 2018, the New Zealand government passed a law banning non-residents from buying property excl Australians and Singaporeans.

Britain is the only country on the planet to sell off its entire water infrastructure to private investors.

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All About Nige?

So who really sold out GB Inc. Nige?  

It was Farage’s then Conservative government of the 1980s that started off this reckless unconditional sale of prime UK assets to all and sundry. Subsequent audit reports did reveal that most of these former public assets were grossly undervalued at the time of sale. At that time Farage was working as a stockbroker in the City of London when these privatised assets created a boom in profits for those in the square mile.

Some of the current high profile members in Farage’s raging BREXIT Party (e.g. Ann Widdecombe) were paid up members of the Conservative Party when Britain sold its soul in the name of a very short sighted ideology called unconditional and under valued privatization.

[Some of the current senior die-hard pro-BREXIT Conservative MPs such as John Redwood were also at the heart of the privatisation of these prime assets. So it is a bit rich to hear Redwood moaning about the influence of the EU on UK society.]

Subsequent Labour and Conservative governments (1990s-2010s) perpetuated this fire sale which has left Britain as easy pickings. Farage has not even bellowed a fart over this short sighted policy which was more damaging than anything metered out from Brussels. At least in the EU the UK government can veto or just ignore certain legislation it disagrees with. As the French and German governments have constantly done.

Imagine, some of the UK’s most sensitive govt buildings is owned by, well…

  • …”The historic Admiralty House and four other Whitehall buildings are now operating in accordance with some sharia rules – including a ban on alcohol – after they were used as part of an Islamic bond scheme

Today, “Independence” from the EU – without a sensible deal means – being a cast-iron lapdog to Donald Trump’s (where Nige’ is already in a set position) and lead to the sale of the few remaining key assets and self respect to the US and other circling venture vultures. With the NHS, BBC, ports and welfare system are clearly up for grabs.

As we draw to a close to the most eventful decade in UK politics Farage is clearly in the running for UK politician of that era. Nothing much has been achieved in this period but Nige has made a killing for himself.

“He (Farage) was a natural-born salesman,” recalls Alex Heath, a fellow broker. “Setting up on your own requires backing and it requires people who believe in you and Nigel is very good at getting people to believe in him.” – FT 2015

Image result for farage pint 2019

Here’s to Happiness

Further reading:

  • Farage launches manifesto
  • Nigel Farage paid at least €30,000 a month by own media firm
  • Nigel Farage’s pinstriped image belies modest City career – FT 2015

 

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UK General Elections – The Smaller Parties

When next month’s UK general election is concluded, either the Labour or Conservative Party may have to rely on the support of seats won by their smaller rivals to form a government that functions effectively.

Liberal Democrats

It is hard to believe today that the Liberal Democrats started this decade with 57 MPs at Westminster. But the Liberal Democrats paid dearly for being part of that draconian coalition government with the Conservatives. By the 2015 general election the Liberal Democrats were down to just 8 MPs and won 12 seats in 2017.

Since 2018, the Liberal Democrats has welcomed a number pro-EU MPs who had defected from the Conservatives and Labour thus pushing them up to 21 MPs.

  • Can the Liberal Democrats return to those dizzy heights of 57 MPs?

A very tall order for the Liberal Democrats to achieve but as the one true pro-EU national political party, they are hoping to get substantial votes from Labour and Conservative supporters who are anti-BREXIT.

  • Will those pro-EU Labour voters really switch to the Liberal Democrats given their record in government on the economy and welfare state when propping up David Cameron’s Tories?

Current Liberal Democrats leader, Jo Swinson, is quite rightly having a tough time on the campaign trail defending her voting record in government which influenced a rise in poverty for many UK residents. Swinson’s current attacks on Tory cuts to public spending lacks any credibility or authenticity. We all know that in terms of policies and intentions, both the senior Liberal Democrats and Conservative ministers in that coalition government were very close.

The more you hear Swinson during campaign the less convincing she comes across as  tenable and liberal.

[Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, two of Swinson’s former Liberal Democrats senior colleagues in government – who were key architects of those savage cuts to public spending – have done well for themselves since they lost their seats in the 2015 general election. Clegg is head of global affairs and communication at Facebook and Alexander is vice president and corporate secretary at Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in China]

This week Swinson added to her growing reputation as a neo-Conservative at heart when she stated her preparedness to use nuclear weapons if necessary.

Scottish National Party (SNP)

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is looking to strengthen their hold north of the border by taking votes from Labour and the Conservatives. Since the 2015 general election the SNP has had the most seats from Scotland at Westminster when they nearly swept the table winning 56 or the 59 seats available. By the 2017 general election the SNP were down to a more reasonable 35 seats thanks to a Conservative Party resurgence under then new Scottish leader Ruth Davidson.

Davidson’s resignation in August is a blow to the chances of Boris Johnson holding on to the gains made by her in Scotland. As a result we could see the SNP cementing their grip at Westminster as the third largest political party.

If Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “wins” the most seats he will need to rely on the support of the SNP to form a solid coalition than that of Swinson’s Liberal Democrats. Under such a SNP/Labour coalition it would be political suicide for Sturgeon to push for any independence referendum.

Sturgeon as First Minister is a solid leader in the Scottish parliament at Holyrood. She comes across as down to earth, confident, assured and thinks well on her feet. Despite some teething issues over education the SNP under Sturgeon has been a steady ship in the devolved assembly.

Sturgeon’s debates with Davidson were by far more constructive, combative and mature than those down south between Corbyn and Cameron/May/Johnson. Davidson had held her own against Sturgeon at the dispatch box as both were more formidable than their national counterparts in Westminster. Real shame that the London-bias media largely ignores Scottish politics.

I get the sense though that some English based voters would prefer voting for the SNP rather than the current options available to them locally.

But one of the things to look out for from the Scottish vote is whether the recent sexual assault charges filed against Alex Salmond – Sturgeon’s predecessor and former mentor  – could hurt the SNP at the polls.

Nigel Farage’s BREXIT Party

The BREXIT Party is the fly in ointment in this unusual general election.  The party did well in this year’s EU election but winning seats in Westminster is altogether a different beast to conquer, given it is based on first-past-the-post.

Dear Leader Farage is a master communicator and manipulator. He knows which buttons to press to get his target audience on his side. Farage has managed to sway both some hard left figures to his party on this single issue of leaving the EU.

Whenever Farage is backed into a corner by valid points made by Jo public he sometimes gets flustered. Unlike the political class that has failed terribly to outfox this cheeky chappy of modern UK politics.

Farage is no numbskull and has backed away from contesting a seat in the election as he knew perfectly well that he would lose. Farage had initially declared that the BREXIT Party would contest approximately 600 seats.

But in some sort of back-door deal with Boris, Nige has – without consulting his senior colleagues – decided that the BREXIT Party will not contest 317 seats. This surprising move by Farage is aimed at giving the Conservative Party a clearer chance of winning key seats ahead of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Farage has promised to focus on those Labour-held seats that voted for BREXIT in the EU-referendum.

This move has infuriated a number of BREXIT candidates who were revved up for the election and now have also lost their deposits. When asked by LBC radio’s Eddie Mair if he will return the deposits to those candidates no longer running, Farage simply said “No”.

A few days ago Farage asked voters to elect some BREXIT Party candidates in order to “hold Boris Johnson to his word”. Sounding desperate Nige?

The only places I could see the BREXIT Party coming close to winning seats would be  in Essex and the Midlands. I would be amazed if Farage’s party would find success in the north east of England as some polls have predicted.

Just like Farage’s earlier incarnation as leader of UKIP, I expect the influence of the BREXIT Party to diminish by 2020. As Farage always ends up walking away to cook up another caper which could be the case if a Labour-led government pushes for a 2nd EU referendum .

Northern Ireland

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held 10 of the 18 seats in parliament and those MPs were crucial to the survival of the shaky minority Conservative government since 2017. The DUP leadership must be in a tailspin at the thought of their old enemy Corbyn becoming PM. But they would be partly to blame.

The impact of BREXIT is probably more significant to the Northern Ireland region than any other part of the UK as a result of the border with Ireland. But the DUP must still be reeling from being thrown under the bus by Boris in his quest for an express EU deal by the 31st October.

In the 2017 general election the republican leaning Sinn Féin had their best ever result when they won 7 seats. But as usual Sinn Féin never took up their places at Westminster owing to the party’s stance against taking an oath to Queen Elizabeth II. Sinn Féin have said they will not stand in 3 seats in order to give the nationalist leaning Social Democratic and Labour Party a better chance of defeating the DUP.

It would be interesting to watch if Sinn Fein changes their long standing stay-out-of-Westminster stance if their winning seats could usher Corbyn into Downing Street.

More Party Games

The Pro-EU Change-UK Party was formed this year with much fanfare following the defection of some sitting Labour & Conservative MPs. The buzz they created fizzled out quickly with many of the founding leaders switching to the Liberal Democrats or sitting out this election altogether. It will be a tall order for the remaining 4 candidates – including leader Anna Soubry – to return to Westminster. But Soubry’s absence would be a loss to parliament.

A Unite to Remain alliance has now been formed by candidates from the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist) and the Green Party all of whom are 100% pro EU. Thus each party would support just one candidate across 60 constituencies in order to get more pro- EU MPs in Westminster and stop BREXIT in its tracks. In the last concluded parliament Plaid Cymru had 5 MPs and the Greens 1.

If this alliance manages to win even two thirds of their target seats then they would have done extremely well and cost Corbyn dearly.

All to play for.

Image result for corbyn sturgeon

Corbyn & Sturgeon could be singing Auld Lang Syne together into 2020

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Coe Needs a Red Card from Athletics

If Seb Coe remains head of the IAAF for much longer he is going to ruin the sport with his conservative approach.

Coe’s recent announcement to remove  the discus, 200m, 3000m steeplechase and triple jump  from next season’s Diamond League finals defies logic.

The 200m for example is one of the most competitive disciplines on the circuit. There is extra spice whenever the top 400m runners step down to clash with seasoned sprinters. The men’s and women’s discus has had one of its more competitive and high class seasons. Plus the 3000m steeplechase is such a great tactical race to view, full of mind games. The triple jump always had tremendous entertainment value and and some of the more charismatic athletes on the circuit.

I am heartened by the public outrage of former and current athletes over Coe’s decision. My only wish was they should have spoken out far earlier about other poor decisions made by Coe & co since he first became Vice President and eventually President of the IAAF.

  • “You are seriously destroying the historical and cultural heritage of the sport of athletics because of some short term marketing strategy,” – Global Throwing, a group of athletes and coaches in throwing events, wrote in a letter to IAAF President Sebastian Coe.

In the statement released by the IAAF, Coe said ““Our objective is to create a faster-paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport. A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch.”

We all agree that there is a lot wrong with the Diamond League (DL)

  1. The media package delivered to tv and radio sucks and is not entertaining. TV presenters lack the kind of personality that would draw the casual viewers. Poor interaction between the track presenters and athletes. The commentating is too monotonous.
  2. The meets are too formulated and predictable. The local meet director has little room to bring their own creativity due to the rigid format of the DL.
  3. The DL is only held at 14 venues across the globe (10 European + US, China, Morocco & Qatar). The DL has to expand to countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Germany, South Africa, Kenya and Canada. How the IAAF does not hold DL gigs in such athletics-fanatic nations is inexcusable.
  4. The big match-ups in the sprint disciplines should occur far more often to build up its media profile.
  5. Total prize money for the entire 2019 Diamond League season was a stingy $9 million. Given the reach of the sport the level of prize money available is disappointing. Prize money alone for this week’s men’s tennis tour finals in London is $9 million.

IAAF Needs an Injection of PR Chiefs & Big Bucks

The IAAF constantly moans about the lack of media coverage it receives in certain countries especially the US. But how many times has anyone ever seen Coe make an appearance on any sporting tv or sofa friendly shows to promote the sport? Have you ever seen Coe or Sergey Bubka (VP) anywhere promoting athletics to newer audiences? Who is the PR chief  for the IAAF

You always hear the excuse that doping scandals has damaged the sport’s image and thus turns off potential sponsors. In many other sports controversy sells and draws curiousity thanks to the guile and finesse of sports administrators who are efficient at reputational management and making money.

Take the growth in popularity and revenue of Mix Martial Arts (MMA) for example. Jon Jones -one of MMA’s top fighters – has been caught up in so many scandals -including doping ones- that would make Justin Gatlin look like Mary Poppins. But whenever Jones returns from his latest hiatus he is still box office. Why? Because Dana White (head of UFC) knows how to turn a scandal into a money spinner to pull in the crowds and sponsors.

White will go anywhere to promote his sport because he treats it as a serious business and not some summer pastime, knowing full well that the coffers will roll in because of the hard work by him and his team.

New Media World Means Bolder PR

Athletics cannot attract new fans, extra revenue and increased media interest based solely on the performances in a stadium. The sport’s PR has to evolve to constantly stay in the news cycle. Stories about the athletes away from the track is a one of the ways to maintain media & public interest.

  • Top athletes should be promoted via the new forums open to the public such as vlogs, appearing on late night chat shows, games show, reality shows etc. The IAAF could lobby TV companies to get some of their athletes on shows such as DWTS, I’m a Celeb and The Voice. We know top hurdler Omar McLeod has a decent singing voice. I’d be pushing for Sandi Morris/Noah Lyles  to duet on The Voice & X Factor given their performance in Doha. Crossover appeal matters.
    • Imagine if a training camp of elite athletes became a reality show in the lead up to the next season?
    • Has the likes of Allyson Felix, Shelly Anne Fraser-Pryce or Dafne Schippers appeared on BBC’s popular comedy-sports quiz show “A Question of Sport”?
  • The IAAF’s PR machine should be working with the media to make more on the success of mothers Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Nia Ali who all won gold medal in Doha.
  • Elaine Thompson, current double Olympic champion, recently got married.  Thompson should be one the sport’s leading ambassadors but rarely does interviews away from the track. Given Thompson’s status her recent wedding should have gained wider publicity. If only the IAAF had the kind of publicity machine that could pitched such human stories to the likes of Hello magazine. Top [US pole vaulter Sandi Morris (below) also married fellow Olympian Tyrone Smith right after Doha.]
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Taking the plunge: Sandi Morris & Tyrone Smith

Coe and his team have missed a golden opportunity to apply Usain Bolt’s public relations template across the sport. Despite his retirement Bolt still manages to get more media attention than current athletes.

The IAAF and their national affiliated bodies should ensure that the top athletes are given adequate pr training to hone their communication skills so that they are selling the sport 24/7.

The IAAF simply needs a new form of leadership. They need a leadership team that has great motivational and PR skills. People who will expand the sport through effective lobbying of governments, media and big business. Someone who will improve the earning power of the athletes.

Show Coe the Door

We have to remember that Coe is a former UK Conservative MP and represents the Tories in the House of Lords. What do the Tories thrive on? Making unnecessary cuts. Athletes must now be concerned if other disciplines will be removed post 2020.

Time for the current athletes to cut Coe before he ushers them from the stadium. For good.

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Happier times – Coe win triple jumpers Caterine Ibargüen & Christian Taylor

 

Other reading:

  • Beatrice Chepkoech: Diamond League move will kill careers
  • Diamond cut – JAAA president laments omission of events from IAAF’s showpiece League final
  • Dina Asher-Smith endorses Christian Taylor’s new athletes union after Diamond League event cull
  • Letter: USATF AAC Bewildered Over DL Event Cuts

 

 

 

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Standoff Between Bustamante Hospital & PNP Councillor leads to Shutdown – Security?

A recent spat between Kari Douglas, PNP Councillor, and Dr Judith Francis Bogle at the Bustamante Hospital for Children has been a hot topic in Jamaica this week. Douglas was said to be unimpressed with the initial reaction from staff on the state of her ill eight-month-old son. Douglas stood her ground which led to a two-hour shutdown of the hospital.

Douglas has since apologised for her actions.

PNP Chairman Fitz Jackson has come out quickly to condemn Douglas’ behaviour and the party will conduct their own internal investigation. Douglas is not well liked by the leadership. Her support of challenger Peter Bunting during the party’s recent leadership race has caused a backlash from the (leader) Peter Phillips wing of the party.

Take a chill pill Fitz! It’s not good PR to go after the mother of a sick baby to score cheap political points. Especially when we know of many Jamaicans who have experienced dismal customers services at public heath facilities on a regular basis.

Did Fritz publicly condemn his colleague Natalie Neita when she was initially charged with assault in 2018?

This week, members of the medical and nursing community highlighted the fear, stress and trepidation they face from the public on a daily basis. Carmen Johnson, the nurses union leader, disclosed that last month there were other threatening incidents against her members by the public at the Bustamante hospital.

Did senior management, the Bustamante board, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) and the Minister of Health & Wellness know of these earlier incidents? If yes, were there a ny preventive steps taken by the board at Bustamante to ease such pressures on staff?

Dr Bogle told the media “This is a longstanding issue. The entire A&E and ward staff feels unsafe to report to work. I do want a transfer because I don’t feel safe. I have been in the department for five years, and every patient who visits the hospital feels as if they can do and say anything without repercussion,”

If senior management had long been aware of the security concerns how could the actions of one unarmed member of the public lead to the shutdown of one of Jamaica’s leading public hospitals?

Makes you wonder if the public health sector is getting value for money in the services provided by private security firms. Especially, in light of latest security related contracts signed off by the government in the past week.

Published in Tuesday’s local newspapers were the following approved 3-year contracts totaling $JM1.7 billion for firms to provide security and related services in health facilities across the parishes of  St. Catherine, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew.

  • $436.6 million to Modern Investigations and Security Company Limited  (covering Bustamante Hospital for Children, National Chest Hospital, Hope Institute and the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre.)
  • $348.2 million to Shalk Electronic Security (Kingston and St Andrew health departments and all health centres.)
  • $355 million to King Alarm (Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals.)
  • $382.8 million to Marksman Limited (Spanish Town Hospital, St Catherine Health Department offices, Linstead Hospital and selected health centres)
  • $193.5 million to Atlas Protection (Princess Margaret Hospital, St Thomas Health Department offices and selected health centres)

You would hope that Kenny Benjamin, Chairman of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, would be on top of any security concerns raised by his senior staff. Benjamin is founder and Executive Chairman of Guardsman Group of Companies, one of Jamaica’s largest private security firms.

 

 

 

 

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UK General Election – End of Musical Chairs, Watson and Austin?

One of the reasons why I am pleased that there is a general election next month, is it should bring an end to the musical chairs by self-serving MPs switching political parties in a huff.

This ridiculous party switching was summed up by the manoeuverings of one Heidi Allen.

Allen started 2019 as a MP for the Conservatives, by March she switched to the newly formed Change UK, only to jump ship again by June and go through her John-the-Baptist phase. By October, Allen joined the Liberal Democrats and in the past couple of weeks has decided not to stand in the general election.

The party hopping of other MPs such as Chuku Umunna, Angela Smith, Sarah Wollaston took on a similar trajectory similar to Allen but Sam Gyimah was another politician who really took the biscuit (annoying). One minute Gyimah (former Conservative minister) ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of his party and weeks later joined the Liberal Democrats.

Allen joins quite a few MPs who have decided not to stand for re-election for varying reasons, but the main one being the level of personal abuse received over BREXIT. But clearly some MPs are leaving rather than face certain defeat on election night. e.g. Amber Rudd with her slim majority of 300+ from the 2017 general election was unlikely to return to the House of Commons.

Yet still I have this inkling – post December 12 – that other pretentious MPs will continue the party hopping games. So the 2 main parties must agree on legislation that will mandate such MPs into a by-election within a certain time frame after them switching parties or going independent.

(back row left to right) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan, following a pres

Change UK MPs – Spring 2019

Image result for change uk mps october 2019

Autumn 2019

 

Watson and Austin Gone? – Not so fast

Corbyn has had some internal pressure off his battered shoulders with the news that his deputy Tom Watson will not stand in the election. In light of Watson’s disgraceful behaviour in the Carl Beech affair he should have resigned months ago.

Ian Austin is leaving Westminster too.  Good riddance some are saying. But what are Watson and Austin really up to?

Austin – the MP for Dudley North – left Labour months ago and has since endorsed Boris Johnson which outraged some Labour supporters.

Before becoming MPs, both Austin and Watson were advisers/bruisers at the Treasury from the late 1990s/early2000s onward working to – then Iron Chancellor – Gordon Brown.

Austin and Watson along with Ed Balls, Damian “Mad Dog” McBride, Charlie Whelan and Nick Brown created the most despised team of advisers ever to set foot in Whitehall.

Their ruthless behavior created fear and dismay across Whitehall. This underworld of advisers did their best to rip out the independence of the civil service. If you disagreed with them your civil service career was done. They were a smearing machine the likes never seen in  any UK government even up to today.

Back then Tony Blair may have been the Prime Minister but it was Gordon Brown’s junta that controlled the entire civil service and thus had the real power. Even senior members of the Blair cabinet were constantly undermined by Brown’s mob and had zero authority.

In his book ‘The Triumph of the Political Class‘ Peter Oborne perfectly captured the essence of that disgraceful period.

“The most audacious of all the attacks on the civil service was the assault on the Treasury carried out by the new Chancellor Gordon Brown and his tightly knit inner team of advisers….Gordon Brown smashed down the normal structures. E.g. in clear infraction of procedure he brought his special advisers to cabinet committee meeting….carrying on with his own work rather than engaging with the round table discussion ”

Some will tell you it was Austin who was instrumental in removing Tony Blair as PM. “It was that bloody Ian Austin,’ says one Cabinet minister said at the time ‘He’s the real assassin.’

The likes of Austin, Watson, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were “rewarded”  with safe Labour constituents which was nothing short of corruption in my books.

Rebirth of The Firm?

Watson, Austin, Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan and many other Labour MPs have all tried since 2015 to remove Corbyn by applying their old dirty smearing tricks. The anti-Semitism smear playbook against Corbyn is part of their modus operandi. Because as someone close to Blair told me years ago it is “effective against the left”.

But I have to admire Corbyn and Diane Abbott for withstanding the brutal media assault both have faced. Most of which has been lies and sheer hypocrisy. If Meghan Markle think she’s had a tough time with the media then I’d suggest she discreetly compares notes with Corbyn and Abbott.

When you see the anti-Corbyn Labourites and their Tory friends attacking Jeremy for being a racists you know they are getting desperate. As they know full well that Corbyn has been fighting against racism from the back benches in 1980s, when it was unfashionable for even BAME politicians to do so.

Although Watson and Austin are leaving Westminster Corbyn and his inner circle cannot  let their guard down against these internal plotters. Are Austin, Watson et al putting the band of brothers back together again?

As the right wing blog site Guido Fawkes said in 2009 –Look at the people who are at the heart of the Brown bunker – brutal, malevolent, mendacious unpleasant-to-the-core people like Tom Watson, Ian Austin, Nick Brown and Damian McBride.  They have no coherent positive strategy, they only have political poison to offer. It won’t work…

 

Image result for corbyn watson

Corbyn & Watson – disjointed double act

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cricket West Indies – Testing Phase

Cricket West Indies (CWI) recently made some significant appointments that us fans hope is a step in the right direction.

First, Phil Simmons is back as head coach of the men’s senior team, 3 years after getting his marching orders by then CWI president, Dave Cameron.

CWI also appointed Roger Harper as the chief selector of the men’s team. Miles Bascombe (Windward Islands) has been chosen as  Harper’s deputy. Given Bascombe was part of the task force mandated to head-hunt new selectors, his appointment looks tacky.

The selectors have picked the 3 male squads (T20, ODI, Tests) that will tour India this month to play the host and Afghanistan whose previous head coach was Simmons.

Gus Logie is the new interim coach of the West Indies women’s team. Courtney Walsh will support Gus as bowling coach. Lead selector of the West Indies women’s & girls’ panel will be Ann Browne-John (Trinidad & Tobago) supported by Guyana’s Travis Dowlin

Phil Simmons 

Simmons’ reappointment comes as no surprise. Ricky Skerritt – newly appointed president of CWI – campaigned strongly on a belief that the head coach of the West Indies should always be West Indian. Such narrow-minded thinking is dangerous when running a professional body where success is measured on results.

During his campaign for the presidency of CWI Skerritt did not hide his disgust at how  Simmons was treated by Cameron. Simmons was clearly Skerritt’s preferred choice; which made the whole recruitment process look like a sham.

Skerritt must know that part of England’s rise to be a power house in modern men’s cricket happened under the management by 3 non-English coaches: Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower (Zimbabwean) as well as Trevor Bayliss (Australian).

In fact Jamaica’s Jimmy Adams – current West Indies Director of Cricket – earned his glowing reputation thanks to his time in England coaching Kent from 2012-2016.

Non- West Indian coaches that CWI could have also considered for the post include Mike Hesson (New Zealand), Mickey Arthur (South Africa/Australia), Tom Moody (Australia), David Ripley (England) and Johan Botha (South Africa).

I wish Simmo well.

New Era = New Squads

The various West Indian men’s squads to tour India/Afghanistan (starting tomorrow) makes for interesting reading.

  • Delighted that Brandon King has made the ODI and T20 squads. King should have made the test squad as well.
  • Kraigg Brathwaite is lucky to be in the test squad given his batting form has been woeful.
  • Sad to see Oshane Thomas has been left out completely. But he has played a lot of cricket in his short international career and looked rather haggard in the recent CPL.
  • Move on from Sunil Narine. He has shown little interest in playing for the West Indies for every excuse he can find. You never hear of top players from other nations constantly opting out from playing for their countries – unless for security reasons.
  • Hayden Walsh Jr’s stock has grown since getting his chance with the Barbados Tridents in the recently concluded CPL. His selection half way through the CPL proved the turning point for the eventual champions Tridents. Walsh jr’s selection to the white ball Windies squads was a close shave, given he was on the verge of playing cricket for the US; which only fell through due to some contractual issues.
  • Shimron Hetmeyer needs to stop throwing his wicket away with unforced errors and settle down.
  • The selectors were right to remove Jason Holder as captain of the white-ball squads. But I would have gone for young Nicholas Pooran instead of 32 year old Kieron Pollard with a view to the 2023 ICC World Cup.

I hope Simmons will give priority to developing the test side over the white-ball versions. Simmons has to pressure the Caribbean grounds staff to develop better pitches for the red-ball format that is fair equally to the batsmen and fast bowlers.

CWI Women  – Give Them a Break

West Indian fans will have to go easy in expecting too much from the women’s senior team. They are going through a development phase which will take time to reap consistent success.

But West Indies women’s cricket faces an uphill struggle to match the investments by top teams such as India, England and Australia.

  • English Cricket Board (ECB) announced an initial £20m of funding over “the next two years will allow 40 full-time professional, domestic contracts to be handed out in addition to the existing 21 England women centrally contracted players.” The long term aim is to invest £50m over five years.
  • Cricket Australia has long set the standard in invested millions into local women’s cricket and the results are showing with the quality and depth of the players coming through. For the 2020 T20 world cup Cricket Australia has promised to top up any prize money won by their women’s team to match the men’s version. In 2017 total female payments were raised from $7.5 million to $55.2 million, with the minimum retainer for an Australian representative sitting at $72,076 and expected to rise to over $87,000 in 2022.
  • The top Indian female cricket stars earn roughly $US72K upwards. (It is common knowledge that few top West Indian women earn way below what their Indian counterparts earn)

CWI will have to show levels of creative thinking in order to stay competitive on a consistent basis. Whoever saw Friday’s exciting the women’s ODI victory over India must have felt encouraged. Crowd turn out in Antigua was terrific. India leveled the series 1-1 on Sunday.

Stefanie Taylor is a local treasure. The fans, corporate Caribbean and CWI need to remember that and reward her brilliance accordingly.

Scouting Mission

Robert Haynes has been appointed Talent ID Manager for the boys panel. In other words scouting. I just hope Haynes’ scouting remit stretches to the UK and other places where the West Indian diaspora is involved in local cricket. Especially on the women’s side.

Given the levels investment going in to both male and female cricket by the ECB there is bound to be youngsters from the Afro-Caribbean community who will get involved.

Another reason for England’s resurgence in international cricket over the past 2 decades was their scouting programme which included spotting talent in the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and transforming some in to solid players – for England’s benefit.

Mental Health Matters

Going forward CWI has to make the issue of mental health a key priority. CWI needs set up a pool of sports psychologists to assist the players at all levels. Mental health is so crucial in today’s fast moving and high profile sporting world. Such holistic expertise is paramount to help structure the players thoughts (e.g. visualisation), handle their emotions and manage expectations in a measured way.

Despite being a team sport we have seen the mental toll cricket has had on some players. This was well documented by England’s Marcus Trescothick who found it difficult tour overseas. Former England players such as Graham Thorpe, Graham Hick, Mark Ramprakash  and Steve Harmison have spoken about their own mental health challenges when playing for England.

We learnt last week of Australia’s Glenn Maxwell’s decision to take a break from cricket due to mental health issues.

We have to accept that sometimes a player going through a rough patch may have little to do with any on-the-field issue.

I still feel that mental health for West Indian sports men and women is still an issue not discussed openly within our community or in the media. It would help if some our former top players spoke candidly about their own mental challenges when representing the West Indies. e.g. Did the criticisms from the media affect them personally. How did such criticism impact on their immediate family’s welfare?

I wish the new squads and coaching staff well and let’s rally round the West Indies!

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