Monday, 23 November 2009


I interviewed Nick Clegg last month and he seems a very pleasant chap. One of the more genuine politicians out there, you might say. I was mildly surprised to read today that there is a chance he could form a Lib Dem-Tory coalition at the next election. His party could help Labour or the Conservative Party to get over the finish line if neither gets enough seats to form a government, and latest polls suggest it’s getting closer between the two main parties. I feel the idea of Clegg helping David Cameron would not go down too well with some of Clegg’s party’s activists. The Lib Dems are very strong in Sheffield, currently holding the city council, and have a much bigger presence on campus than any other right-wing group. I cannot imagine most of them would be immensely pleased if Dave and Nick lead our country together.

The election battlefield is starting to intensify at the moment and it’s getting exciting. Cameron and Gordon Brown were both criticised by the Dean of Westminster Abbey for trying to compete for photo opportunities at a Remembrance Day service and have since apologised. Labour are stepping up their high-speed rail proposals with a timetable, costs and precise route due to be released before the next election. The Tories have said they need an “emergency budget” within 50 days of being elected into power. But whilst all this is going on, Clegg actually has a vital role to play, as he could determine who gets into power. The Lib Dems will have the choice of who to form a coalition with, and we could see the bizarre situation of having a left-wing party combining with a right-wing party in government. I can’t wait for Prime Minister’s Questions...
PICTURE: The Times

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I think a full investigation into the expenses of judges and magistrates could prove to be very interesting. The Independent revealed some of the first details today, and there must be more to come. The public outcry following the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses files was understandable as MPs are public figures who are well-known in their local communities. However far less people come into contact with judges - it’s mainly only those working in the legal profession, those who come in front of them in court and journalists. If I asked you to name five judges in the country, I bet most of you couldn’t. But almost all of you would know the names of five MPs at least.

The wigs worn by judges are symbolic of the fact that there is still a big barrier between the legal profession and the general public. I think the justice system in this country is very good - I’ve observed many court cases as a journalist already and have never seen an unfair trial, in my eyes. But because so few people come into contact with judges - and they’re seen by many as people with wigs and robes entrenched in an archaic system - as more details come out about their expenses, it could stoke huge public anger. But I’m not suggesting anybody is a crook. Let us wait for the Freedom of Information Act to work its wonders over the next few months.
PICTURE: Judiciary Service

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What an awful decision the officials made yesterday to allow Paul Scharner’s goal for Wigan against Tottenham. It was a blatant handball from the replays I’ve seen. But hold on a minute. Nobody’s talking about that handball because Spurs won 9-1. This is the second-biggest winning margin in the Premier League’s history, eclipsed only by Manchester United 9 Ipswich Town 0 in 1995. Many congratulations to them as well. But it’s interesting how a refereeing decision goes relatively unnoticed when it has no impact on the game. I’m obviously drawing parallels here to Monsieur Henry last Wednesday [pictured] when his handball - “the ‘main’ of God” (or) “the hand of frog” - put France through to World Cup 2010 at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.

In both cases, a video replay would have proven the mistake and disallowed the goal. This argument has for some time made me in favour of video replays in football. But I was chatting to one of my friends on Saturday, who is a match official up to Conference South level, and he explained why video replays are a bad thing. I have to say that he’s changed my mind on the subject. He argued that if you implement replays at the top level of football, then it suddenly becomes a different game. The rules are the same at every stage of the football pyramid - whether it be Essex Senior League or Football League Championship - but replays will give certain teams in higher leagues an advantage. And the game loses its beautiful platform of everybody playing by the same rules - Chelsea or Concord Rangers. I think the introduction of video-replays would only serve to widen the gap between the top and bottom tiers of football - and for that reason, it’s a bad thing, unless we can work a technology that is affordable at every level. But I would prefer it if referees didn’t make any mistakes. Ideally.
PICTURE: Daily Telegraph