Friday, November 21, 2014


Twitter, Facebook and UKIP have become vehicles for the "Something Must Be Done" sentiment in this country.

At 3.12pm yesterday Labour MP Emily Thornberry tweeted a photo she'd taken of a white van in front of a terraced house adorned with flags of the St George Cross, tagged "Image #Rochester". Seven hours later, she had resigned from the Shadow Cabinet.

On November 11, Sheffield United revealed that former player and convicted rapist Ched Evans was to train with the club again. Yesterday they reversed that decision. Evans has served a jail sentence, is now a registered sex offender for life, but continues to protest that he was wrongly convicted. Deputy Prime Minister (and local MP) Nick Clegg welcomed United's change of heart on Twitter.

Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan has got in a right tangle over the appointment of Malky Mackay as new manager, and important people have expressed views.

One presumes this puts both men back in the Match of the Day pundit pecking order.

Back to politics: after both recent UKIP by-election wins, Tory and Labour leaders have come out and said "We're listening". Not good enough: the modern electorate has a taste for instant results, the sort they get when teasing the BBC by voting for Judy Murray, John Sergeant, Russell Grant and Ann Widdecombe.

Last night's excellent by-election coverage on BBC TV (stars Andrew Neil, correspondent Chris Mason, and, I'm afraid to say, for performance, not content, UKIP's Suzanne Evans) had this graph measuring party leaders' popularity six months before an election. If Thornberry had only made herself unpopular....

Ed will bash on, presumably, with his mansion tax, and some other policies yet to be revealed. Cameron offers leadership still kow-towing to bankers and cozying up to construction companies (HS2), telling us one day the recovery is safe in Conservative hands, and the next that we're teetering on the brink. Whilst UKIP offers what one commentator calls "a Thatcher tribute band". So we career towards a hung parliament.

Meanwhile, life in the UK has changed. People south of Watford under 35 talk about finding somewhere to rent for under £1,000 a month, not the house price rises that fascinate newspapers and broadcasters. You'd think that with Bank of England interest rates stuck on the bottom, lenders would be courting borrowers - yet mortgage rates are comfortably 4.5% higher, a gap that was steady at around 2% up to 2009.  Somebody, not us, is making money.

New families bring up first babies through anxious phone calls to NHS Direct and visits to casualty. Do any of our now well-paid GPs still do doctor's rounds ?  In general, wages and salaries have fallen in real terms, yet food, drink, utilities and fuel seem to obey different rules.

The Green Party, the only bolt-hole for disaffected lefties too squeamish for tactical voting, is squeezed out of public debate by establishment "rules" that also put UKIP in permanent residence on our tv screens.  The French, apparently a European basket-case, have built a network of high-speed rail lines in the time it's taken us debate HS2  - and now, in a dash-for-cash-to-fill-black-holes, Osborne will sell our share in Eurostar as the profits roll in.

Sorry for the rant. Something must be done. I'm off to the pub.

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