Friday, 2 December 2016

Liberal Democrats win back Richmond Park

Sarah Olney won the by-election over Zac Goldsmith by over 2,000 votes. Christian Wolmar, someone who would have been well-known to hard-pressed commuters by rail in the community, mustered only 1,515 votes on behalf of the Labour Party.

For the reasons set out earlier this is a good result. Additionally, it emphasises that the Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to keeping the UK within the EU and that Labour has lost trust, not only over the EU, but in its ability to deliver coherent opposition to the cuts in social services imposed by the Conservatives.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Barry Lloyd

Radio Wales has just announced the death of Neath's Barry Lloyd, who bowled off-spin for Glamorgan, at 63, no age these days. I remember him as an economical bowler and had the impression of a popular team player, borne out by these cricinfo stats and the recollections of Robert Croft and others. He took on the burden of co-captaincy at an awkward time for the county.

My commiserations to his family and friends.

A classic Davis Cup match

An exciting French team, captained by Yannick Noah and comprising Arnaud Boetsch, Guy Forget, Cedric Pioline and Guillaume Raoux, lifted the Davis Cup twenty years ago today. A strong Swedish team which included Stefan Edberg went down 2-3 on home soil. There was virtually no coverage on BBC at the time and the only footage that seems to be available now is here.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Twin pendulums and the business cycle

Time was the business cycle was clear to even people of average intelligence (e.g. me). The world economy oscillated between high and low activity (or boom and bust if you are a journalist or Gordon Brown) over a period of around six years. A government could accentuate (back to Gordon Brown) or attenuate its effects on its national economy, but it could do nothing to affect the regular swing.

But something odd seems to be happening now. I reckon we should be on a marked upswing. I wonder whether the old model has been superseded. It was clearly based on the existence of a single major economy dominating the scene, as the United States arguably has since the Great War and probably the UK before that. When America sneezed, everybody else got the 'flu. With the emergence of China as a big player in the 21st century, we may now have a rather less predictable scenario, much as a twin-pendulum system displays chaotic motion. The worry is that on this model the peaks and troughs would not only be more unforeseeable but also more extreme.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Protection of young footballers

Homosexuality is not paedophilia. Most child sex abuse is committed by men on girls.

Having said that, I find it difficult to believe that the two coaches at the centre of the current scandal did not also have consensual sex with adults and that those adults were unaware of the exploitation that was going on. There must also have been officials at both Crewe and Newcastle who at least had suspicions that abuse was taking place. Part of the reason for their not speaking out must be the lack of honesty within association football. Even rugby admits that it is no different from the rest of society, that there are gay men playing and officiating at the top level.

Even in the midst of another miserable playing season, Charlton Athletic FC maintains its Protecting Children Policy. Charlton was probably the first club in the English Football League to realise the need for a formal system of child protection, possibly in response to the news of Crewe Alexandra's trouble in 1998. It seems that not every club has yet caught up.

See also

Monday, 28 November 2016

Women voting in a general election

On this day in 1893, adult women voted in a national general election in New Zealand. This is rightly celebrated as the first such total suffrage in world history. However, it was not the first occasion on which women were able to vote on the same basis as men. As historian David Olusoga explained in his BBC2 series, in the 1792 elections in Sierra Leone, then a new British colony, all heads of household could vote and one-third were ethnic African women.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Fidel Castro

Jonathan Fryer says most of what I was going to write, good and bad, about the revolutionary leader. I would add to the list of crimes under the communist dictatorship the oppressive treatment of HIV patients, but also emphasise the maintenance of universal education and health care in the face of far worse economic pressures than the UK has had to endure.

One could have predicted Donald Trump's intemperate response to the announcement of Castro's death. Unforgivable in my opinion, considering that he is old enough to remember Batista, is the failure to acknowledge that what Castro replaced, a virtual Mafia fiefdom under a corrupt, brutal and divisive dictator, was far worse.