Monday, 1 June 2009


The David Cameron ‘bounce’ a few years ago now seems more than a bounce. We go to the polls this Thursday (4 June) for the European Elections 2009 and it will be interesting to see whether they will act as a springboard for the Conservative Party to win the next General Election. Labour could finish as low as fourth in the Euros, behind the Tories, Liberal Democrats and even the UK Independence Party (UKIP_, because voting in the Euros is often different to a national election, as it allows people to indirectly vote on whether we should stay in the European Union, giving UKIP an advantage. So the fact that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is doing badly in the national polls suggests that it can only get worse in the Euros. I can’t wait to see what happens.

The Tories are beginning to tap into some notoriously difficult areas such as the north-east, and using their council in North Tyneside as a base for this expansion. Additionally, Boris Johnson’s victory in the Mayor of London elections last year is further evidence that the tide is turning in the Conservatives’ favour, and the party could yet see a return to the strength it had under Margaret Thatcher a couple of decades ago (and you’ll know how much she liked the EU). So the challenge for Cameron is to convince the nation he is more than a gimmick and will bring real change to our country. A good place to start would be MPs’ expenses...
My bet? Tories 1st, Lib Dems 2nd, Labour 3rd, UKIP 4th
My vote? Guess who.

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Well done to ITV (and Simon Cowell) for inventing a programme that has captured the heart of the nation, and given the broadcaster a much-needed revenue boost during difficult times. Britain’s Got Talent is in essence a tried and tested reality format that has had various predecessors such as Fame Academy, Popstars and Pop Idol, but have we never seen such a varied format of talent show before now. ITV is in big financial trouble at the moment, shown by the fall in its share price, although this has begun to gain ground recently on the back of the popular show. It’s another success for Simon Cowell, and has been a breeding ground for tabloid stories and good exposure.

Runner-up Susan Boyle is the best example, as she’s been the top story for many papers over the last week, thanks to the fact that she is so unusual. Whether or not she’s talented, Cowell is well aware that the papers love her story and will continue to indirectly give the show free publicity through this. Then everyone benefits - ITV get more advertising revenue through higher audiences, The Sun and Daily Mirror sell more paper copies, Boyle gets a higher profile that will ensure future contracts, Cowell gets a cut of all this in his back pocket, and the wonderful British public get a superb show. Drinks all round! The winners, Diversity, are paying for them though...

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Should they stay or should they go? I shall give my definitive opinion on cleaning up the mess in Geordie land Let’s go through the Newcastle United squad of 26 professionals as it stands...

GOALKEEPERS (x2): Stephen Harper & Tim Krul
DEFENDERS (x8): Habib Beye, Ryan Taylor, Sebastien Bassong, Claudio Caçapa, Fabricio Coloccini, David Edgar, Steven Taylor & Jose Enrique.
MIDFIELDERS (x8): Geremi, Joey Barton, Nicholas Butt, Danny Guthrie, Ignacio Gonzalez, Kevin Nolan, Damien Duff & Jonas Gutierrez.
STRIKERS (x8): Shola Ameobi, Andrew Carroll, Peter Lovenkrands, Obafemi Martins, Michael Owen [right], Alan Smith, Mark Viduka & Xisco.

Not much quality in there, you might argue. You would be right. But in the past, most of those players were worth loads of money, and the only few saleable assets left who would command a decent fee seem to be Bassong and Martins. Owen will end up going on a free, and land the Toon Army with a multi-million pound loss (thanks for nothing, Mike), and the Magpies are not going to get much for deadwood like Enrique, Geremi, Duff, Smith or Viduka.

If Shearer gets the job, which I vehemently hope he does as it will give the whole of Newcastle hope that their side can go back up, he will have to be ruthless in who to sell. Putting the whole squad up for transfer could be a good idea. It’s important that this is seen as the beginning of a new era, and if that means letting expensive players go on free transfers, so be it. Owner Mike Ashley is selling up at a gigantic loss, and the club should ensure they don’t hold onto expensive and under-performing assets any longer. They should all go - except maybe Harper, Taylor (Ryan & Steven), Nolan and Butt. Let’s start again.