Friday, 30 December 2016

Liberal opinion in Israel welcomes Kerry's speech

It is a pity that BBC reports only the views of the extremes in Israel. The Palestinian activists' welcoming of the parts of US Secretary of State Kerry's recent speech which aided their cause was reported, after prominence being given to ultra-conservative PM Netanyahu's sour and hypocritical* response to the US representative's permitting a UN motion critical of Israel's illegal settlements to pass.

But balance in news and current affairs is more than showing the ends of a seesaw. Time and space should also be given to the liberal and to the moderate conservative centre grounds. I was struck by the detailed examination of these matters given by Israel's Haaretz newspaper. Their consensus was that:
Kerry’s address was a superbly Zionist and pro-Israel speech. Anyone who truly supports the two-state solution and a Jewish and democratic Israel should welcome his remarks and support them.

The Haaretz analyst stressed Kerry's qualifications, of his:
personal connection to Israel since his first visit as a young senator 30 years ago. He told of climbing up Masada, swimming in the Dead Sea, going from one biblical city to another, seeing the Holocaust atrocities at Yad Vashem, and even told of how he piloted an air force plane over Israel to understand its security needs. There aren’t too many other American politicians who know Israel the way John Kerry does. There isn’t a single serving American politician who has delved as deeply into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has invested in studying and trying to resolve it as John Kerry. These things were clearly reflected in his speech. The secretary of state gave a cogent analysis of where things stand in the peace process these days. He noted the deep distrust between the parties, the despair, anger and frustration on the Palestinian side, and the isolation and indifference on the Israeli side.

He goes on:
When you read Kerry’s words, you see immediately that he accepted a significant number of Israel’s demands, first and foremost the demand that any future peace agreement include Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Kerry also stated that a solution to the refugee problem would have to be just and practical, one that would not undermine the State of Israel’s character. He said that any future border would be based on leaving the large settlement blocs in Israel’s hands; he clarified that the permanent arrangement must constitute an end to the conflict and preclude any further Palestinian demands, and stressed security arrangements as a central component of any agreement. At the same time, Kerry’s outline includes a series of compromises that Israel would be required to make, first and foremost allowing Jerusalem to serve as the capital of both states. Kerry clarified that the borders of the Palestinian state would have to be based on the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps of equivalent size, and that Israel must recognize the suffering of the Palestinian refugees.

The main problem with Kerry’s outline is that he presented it too late. He knows that he made a mistake when in March 2014 he did not officially put his framework document, with the same principles that he enumerated in his speech, on the table. His senior advisers admit that if he could go back 33 months in time, Kerry would have presented his peace outline to both sides and summoned them to negotiate on its basis.  Such a “take it or leave it” move at that time would have forced both sides to make strategic decisions. Such a move would also have established the Kerry outline as the basis for all future talks. Its presentation only three weeks before Donald Trump enters the White House, as important as it is, gives it only symbolic worth.

*since the legitimacy of the state of Israel derives largely from a resolution of the United Nations, Netanyahu's use of such words as "disrespectful"  was particularly objectionable.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Much more than raincoats

Charles Macintosh, who gave his name to waterproof coats generally, not just those made according to his innovative process, was born 250 years ago today.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes that "Macintosh's connection with the commercial applications of rubber has somewhat obscured his contemporary fame as an innovative chemist." His entry states: "During a long business career [in Glasgow and Manchester] Macintosh either invented or introduced from abroad a variety of chemically based processes with distinct commercial applications. In addition to the manufacture of sugar of lead these included a new method for calico printing, a variety of methods for dyeing cloth (particularly with Prussian blue), a valuable method of bleaching using dry chloride of lime, a method for preserving citric acid during ocean voyages, a manufacturing process for yeast, and a variety of inventions relating to iron and steel."

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Bob Bradley

It looked like a good fit. Bradley spoke the language and had experience of various other leagues, in addition to his success with the US national team, who won their group in the 2010 World Cup. However, it soon became clear that he had not succeeded in motivating a Swansea City side, shell-shocked from losing two managers in the space of a year. The attitude which has pervaded the team was summed up for me by the way that West Ham scored their last goal on Monday, Nathan Dyer playing two Irons' forwards, including the deadly Andy Carroll, onside, as he ambled back towards the half-way line.

Some of the seeds of the current decline can be laid at the door of previous managers (including the then-inexperienced Garry Monk) in making some poor decisions in buying central defenders. Thus, when Ashley Williams left, there was no-one ready to fill the breach and marshal the defence. However, Ronald Koeman at various clubs and Jaap Stam at Reading (currently in the Championship promotion race) have shown that a good manager with defensive experience at the top level can work wonders with players who are not out of the top drawer. In Stam's case, progress has been achieved playing the way that Swans used to do under Brendan Rodgers.

Swans are not yet completely adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table. There are good players throughout the team. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is ever-professional, and Llorente, who is making a point to his national team manager, can be relied on to score goals. If the aimlessness particularly at the centre of defence can be cured, there is every chance that Swansea City can retain its place in the top division.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Biradari voting is a local problem

I agree with the Electoral Reform Society that the government's proposals for voter identification are a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  The ERS, which campaigns for changes to the electoral system to make it fairer, said the move was a "blunt instrument" that could deter people from voting. The only documents so far proposed as confirmation of identity, passport and driving licence, are less likely to be possessed by the poor and the elderly. Thus, unless a wider range of id (e.g. bus pass, tax assessment) is made acceptable, the move is sure to take out of voting a large section of the population.

In any case, voter personation is only a serious problem in a few localities in England, dominated by clans in particular ethnic communities. It is surely more sensible to give discretion to returning officers who feel they have particular trouble with voter fraud to institute special checks rather than impose the restrictions on the whole UK.

Monday, 26 December 2016

There should be films about Boxing Day

The sheer bulk of Christmas-themed films and TV movies was brought home by the nationwide launch of the True Christmas channel on 4th October (!) this year. Tom Lehrer has already protested the lack of popular songs dedicated to the Jewish festival of lights. I would like to make a similar stand for the remaining eleven days of Christmas, during which festivities traditionally continued through to the night of what-you-will. A start could be made with a drama about the period between now and the New Year, a combination of recovery from Christmas Day and optimism about the year to come.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

God jul!

Merry Christmas to all my readers and especially the loyal followers!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Greetings to all my readers about to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights, and a traditional Anglo-Saxon finger gesture to Donald J Trump and his racist acolytes!

It's also a good excuse to link to one of my favourite Tom Lehrer pieces.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Fashion in music

Radio 3's Composer of the Week this week has been Sergei Prokofiev, concentrating on the period after his return to the USSR. Tuesday's programme was dedicated to the ballet Romeo and Juliet, which Donald Macleod described as Prokofiev's best-known and best-loved work. This caught my attention, because when I was growing up the two pieces by Prokofiev one was most likely to encounter were Peter and the Wolf and the Classical Symphony, with the occasional outing for the march from The Love for Three Oranges. Although it was clearly consistently popular in Russia, the ballet did not make a great impact in the West until, I would guess, Margot Fonteyn and the asylum-granted Rudolf Nureyev formed their partnership at the Royal Ballet in the 1960s. Now many of Sergei Sergeyevich's more substantial works are in the standard orchestral repertoire. It doesn't hurt that the Dance of the Knights was taken up by Channel 4 for their NFL coverage and has since been used by Sunderland FC and Sir Alan Sugar.

The other, lighter, pieces by Prokofiev have not disappeared. However, other "light classical" works by such as Julius Fučík (the centenary of whose death passed almost unnoticed last September), Reznicek and Suppé are hardly heard these days. This in spite of the huge expansion of "straight" music on UK radio, both with Radio 3, which went 24/7 in the 1990s, and the advent of Classic FM.

One regrets the disappearance of several tonal composers during the period when Glock and Boulez dictated the trends on the Third. Gerhard and Rubbra and a few others (see various postings on are struggling back to recognition. However, in the swing back against serial music, several interesting British figures have disappeared. It would be interesting to hear some Humphrey Searle again, in particular his opera based on an Ionescu play, The Photo of the Colonel. His contributions to the Hoffnung concerts proved that not all twelve-tone composers were po-faced.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


Next year's French presidential election looks to be a three-way contest in the first round. Marine le Pen for the fascist Front National, François Fillon for the conservatives and socialist Manuel Valls are reckoned to be the only serious candidates, with Valls expected to be eliminated after the first round of voting. Valls has received very little coverage in this country, but he looks to be the most sympathetic to social democratic electors and has the great advantage that he is not Hollande.

Votewatch Europe has provided a useful pen-portrait of Fillon. As a Thatcherite, he is clearly not the person I would vote for, in spite of his Welsh wife already noted in this blog. However, he may be just the person to restore some discipline to France and thus steady nerves in the EU. His attitude to the Union certainly chimes with my own:

In his campaign programme, Fillon pleads for a “sovereign France in a Europe respectful of nations”. [...] With a pragmatic and not-federalist approach, the centre-right candidate for French presidency wants to “put aside the dream of a federal Europe” and “re-establish a more politically-functioning” EU. 

I look forward to Votewatch's feature on Valls.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Putin "manipulates transatlantic votes"

UK Progressive relays the United States establishment view that Russian computer experts acting on behalf of Vladimir Putin deliberately released confidential data which harmed the Democrat campaign for the presidency. In the UK, the referendum result is alleged to have been fixed by the Russians.

I incline to the view, expressed in  War on the Rocks  passed on by Liberal England, that Putin's aim has been less specific but rather more dangerous. He seeks to sow general mistrust in the pillars of Western democracy. I would place the message that "capitalism has failed" in the same bucket of disinformation. (Capitalism is permanent; what has failed has been the willingness and/or ability of elected governments and supra-national bodies to regulate financial and other markets.) So effective has this virus become that some otherwise respectable commentators have been passing it on.

So far, so defensible. A wilder speculation is that the BBC is genuinely the Bolshevik Broadcasting Company and that they have deliberately given Nigel Farage and other 'kippers extravagant air-time in order to spread the same mistrust of all our established figures.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

We need to keep cash

In this season, nominally Advent, when money is flying about the UK faster than any other time of the year, someone brought up in the Hindu religion has some pertinent things to say about the trendy desire for a cashless society. Amit Varma is no Luddite. However, what he says about the dangers of a dash from cash in India is as true for the UK:

One, a fully cashless society would mean the end of privacy. There would be a digital trail of every action you take through your purchases and transfers. If you buy AIDS medication or a porn magazine or book a hotel room for a romantic alliance, this information can be accessed by the government – or any hacker with the requisite skills – and used against you. India has no privacy laws, and data protection is also a big worry – every week we hear stories of some some big hacking or the other, from the Congress in India to the Democratic Party in the US.

Two, a fully cashless society could mean the end of dissent. The government can use any data it gathers against you. (Even if you commit no crime, there is much you may be embarrassed by.) What’s more, they could make any opponent a pauper with one keystroke, freezing your bank account while they investigate alleged misdeeds. Just the fact that they have this power could have a chilling effect on dissent. Those in government now may well salivate over this, but tables turn fast, and when they are in opposition, would they want their opponents to have such power over them?

Three, a fully cashless society endangers freedom. Cash is empowerment: ask the young wife who saves spare cash from her alcoholic husband; or the old mother who stuffs spare notes under her mattress for years because it gives her a sense of autonomy. Indeed, in a misogynist country like India, cashlessness would hit women the hardest.

It is a myth that an advanced society must necessarily be cashless. In Germany, a country which knows the perils of authoritarianism, more than 80% of transactions are in cash, as citizens safeguard their privacy and freedom. Even in the USA, 45% of transactions are in cash. Note that Germany and the USA actually have the banking and technological infrastructure to enable cashlessness.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Vocal expressions of Christian celebration

After yesterday's rich aural tapestry of Christmas music from around the continent comes Mark Pack with a link to bureaucrats' letting their hair down with a Christmas carol quiz with a difference.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Labour Ditches Disabled People

The cross-bench peer Baroness Deech writes as one of the Lords of the Blog:

I had the privilege of chairing a Lords Select Committee on Disability and Equality in 2015-16, and wrote about it here – After a year of work, the opportunity presented itself last week of achieving one of our key recommendations, by securing an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill, currently making its way through the Lords. The substance of it was that licensing authorities would be required, when licensing premises such as restaurants, clubs and pubs, to check that they were reasonably accessible to disabled people (elderly people too). Under current law, premises are already checked for the protection of children, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and crime and disorder, so this would add little to the paperwork. In any case, it is a legal requirement to allow for reasonable accessibility. The problem has been the lack of ready enforcement.  Currently, if a disabled person finds they cannot access premises, the burden is on them to complain and maybe take legal action, a heavy burden. If applicants for licences had to think about accessibility on a regular basis, and mainstream it into their maintenance of the premises, it would be far less likely that a disabled person would turn up only to discover that they are blocked, with the distress that might cause. The amendment would also have had the result that the enforcement burden would shift to the licensing authority. You can read about it here

Who could possibly not favour such a proposal? Well, the government did not, because of “burdens on businesses” and alleged duplication of the law (not so, because this amendment would have made the necessary adjustments anticipatory, rather than after the fact). Hardly surprising so far.  The real shock was that Labour Lords were told to abstain.  Why? Apparently their “strategy” is to select which amendments to defeat the government on, and this was not going to be one of them.  So we lost the amendment 177 to 135.  14 brave Labour Lords rebelled and supported us.  The rest, I suspect, had no idea what was going on, had not understood the impact of the amendment and simply did as they were told.  Crossbenchers and LibDems were overwhelmingly on side. A few more Labour or Tory rebels and we would have been there.  It passes my understanding that the party that alleges that it stands for “fairness, equality and social justice” (quote from Labour Party website) could not be bothered to go into the lobby for disabled people and their basic human rights of participating in society on an equal footing with everyone else.

Friday, 16 December 2016

European Parliament narrowly fails to adopt more openness

VoteWatch Europe reports: The votes for electing the President of the European Commission will remain secret.

 – MEPs rejected more transparency on the election of the President of the Commission. An amendment tabled by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs proposed to replace the secret vote with one by roll-call (which means recording how each MEP voted). While a simple majority of MEPs supported this proposal, this was not enough for it to pass, as a qualified majority (376) was needed: 364 MEPs voted in favour of the amendment, whereas 316 voted for the status quo;

All the Welsh MEPs (including Nathan Gill - for once UKIP supported a move to improve things in the EU) voted in favour of the amendment, apart from Labour's Derek Vaughan. Why should UK Labour support continued secrecy?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Funny old world of dress

At a time when legislators in Germany are looking at measures to prevent women wearing too much and France maintains her burqa ban, Middle Eastern states keep up their fight against immodesty. The latest government to tighten up is Israel, which according to the nation's liberal organ Haaretz has applied a new, stricter dress code to parliament. The new rules apply to all Knesset employees, holders of permanent entry permits and visitors.

A parliamentary aide was denied entry to the Knesset on Sunday when guards said her dress was immodestly short, and only allowed to go to work after her boss protested.  Shaked Hasson, who works for MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), was delayed at the gate for about an hour, during which five different male guards examined her and said her dress was in violation of the Knesset’s dress code. The dress came to a little above her knees, and she wore stockings underneath.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

EU - Cuba relations

France 24 reports that "the EU and Cuba on Monday signed a deal to normalise ties that had been blocked for decades by human rights concerns under revolutionary icon Fidel Castro".

Perhaps the EU negotiators have received assurances that Cuba is moving towards a more participatory democracy, and one appreciates that there are links between Spain and Cuba, but this deal looks premature. Cuba is still ruled by a self-elected white-skinned cadre and restrictions of people's freedom remain. I would like to have seen this normalisation held out as a prize for concrete steps towards liberal democracy.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Cimla Post Office: consultation, what consultation?

Cimla Post Office is to be moved from CK's food store to a less central position. It was bad enough that it was given up as a dedicated sub-post-office in the first place, but at least it was saved by the Liberal Democrats insistence on no post office closures in the 2010 coalition agreement. To add insult to injury, there seems to have been no consultation with the wider public about the proposed new move. The council clearly was consulted, because the first I heard of it was a posting by Cllr Andrew Jenkins on his web-site a couple of days ago. A less assiduous Labour councillor (and there are too many of those) would no doubt have let it pass. I checked with our members in Cimla and only one seems to have been aware of the impending move.

But it is too late to alert the wider public anyway: the link to the "consultation" web-page is broken and replaced by a message to the effect that the consultation period is over.

The real Herr Flick

One of the amusing grotesques on BBC-TV's "'Allo, 'Allo" was the Gestapo Sturmbannführer Otto Flick. There was a real Herr Flick who was rather more significant. all the more so for staying largely in the shadows. He was a successful industrialist who latched on to the rising Nazi movement at the right time but also thrived during the post-war American settlement.

Contempt for lesser breeds and a love of strong men seem to be features of a contemporary British figure.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Romani event in Swansea next month

Judith Woodman, Liberal Democrat spokesman on business in the last general election and a candidate for police and crime commissioner, has asked us to give publicity to an event in the Taliesin Centre on 20th January. Here are the details:

Taliesin Arts Centre Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PZ Friday 20 January 2017 - 9.30am - 1.30pm

The Romani Cultural & Arts Company is pleased to announce the Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Arts & Culture National Symposium II. The event, hosted by Taliesin Arts Centre, will feature artists Artur Conka and Billy Kerry plus guests including Rosamaria Kostic Cisneros, professional dancer, dance historian, critic, and Roma scholar of Coventry University and Isabel Raabe, co-founder together with Franziska Sauerbrey of the office for cultural affairs in Berlin who are also the instigators and coordinators of the international project RomArchive: Digital Archive of the Roma. This varied range of speakers with their diverse areas of expertise will stimulate conversation amongst the audience regarding the contemporary climate of GRT arts and the wider implications for society. 

This exciting event will take place in the context of the Gypsy Maker 2 project; the unique RCAC venture that facilitates the development of innovative works by established and emerging GRT artists. The project aims to stimulate dialogue across communities about the ways in which art continues to inform the lives of individuals and communities today. For this second phase of the project the RCAC has commissioned exhibitions of new work by Artur Conka, Roma, and Billy Kerry, Romani Gypsy. Examples of both artists’ work will be on display in Taliesin’s Oriel Ceri Richards Gallery space during the symposium. 

“The arts bring enjoyment and inspiration to our everyday lives.  Taking part in the arts, whether as an individual or a member of a community, helps bind us together in a celebration of our common humanity.  But the arts can also help us to understand what is distinctive and important to protect in the differences that define us all.  The arts help us to explore and express the things we have in common and our place in the world.  A fair-minded and tolerant society values and respects the needs, interests and creativity of everybody.  It’s a society that’s impatient of disadvantage, which embraces equality and celebrates diversity.  We want the arts in Wales to include everyone.  We know this will make the arts in Wales more vibrant, exciting and relevant.  We warmly welcome the contribution that this second Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Arts & Culture National Symposium will make to that debate.” Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive Arts Council of Wales

“I’m delighted that Taliesin is hosting the 2017 symposium and helping to break down the ignorance and prejudice that persists about GRT communities. Artists are again at the forefront of busting stereotypes and bringing light and understanding to what remains a serious problem in our society “–Sybil Crouch, Head of Cultural Services, Taliesin Arts Centre

‘As representatives of an international project that itself seeks to break down prejudices through promoting culture and the arts, we are convinced that Gypsy Maker 2 will play an important for the recognition and appreciation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller culture—a culture that is centuries old, most lively and varied to this day.’  Isabel Raabe and Franziska Sauerbrey, Project Initiators and Directors of RomArchive – Digital Archive of the Roma

We anticipate that this exciting half-day symposium and exhibition showcase will generate great interest so please book your place early by writing to The Romani Cultural & Arts Company at:

We recommend that you book as soon as possible as delegate numbers are limited.

Kushti Bok; be well
Good luck and good health

Isaac Blake

The Romani Cultural and Arts Company
Temple Court
13a Cathedral Road
CF11 9HA

More on the Romani Arts website.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Centenarians on screen - and behind it

Much has been made of Kirk Douglas hitting three figures, and earlier in the year Olivia de Havilland, but centenarians in the film business are more common than one might expect. This list on IMDb was last updated two years ago, so it may be expected that the roll-call now extends well beyond the 141 names recorded there. I am glad to see that one of my favourite entries, Norman Lloyd, is still with us and that the film he made when he was over a hundred achieved release.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election

The main result from yesterday:
Conservative (Caroline Johnson)               17517 53.5% (-2.7)
UKIP (Victoria Ayling)                               4426 13.5% (-2.2)
Liberal Democrat (Ross Pepper)                  3606  11.0% (+5.3)
Labour (Jim Clarke)                                   3363  10.2% (-7.0)
Others: Lincs Ind 2892. Independent 462, Loony 200, Independent 186. Independent 74. Bus Pass Elvis 55

First thoughts: The balance of the House has been improved. A man and a lawyer has been replaced by a woman paediatrician. The government's NHS policy is going to be increasingly interrogated from its own benches.

The UKIP vote did not fade as much as I expected. This, together with a similar slight fall in the Conservative Brexiter's vote, seems to demonstrate that East Anglia remains dominated by a desire to Leave. UKIP has taken over second place from Labour. It looks as if the party threw everything at this election, having given up on both Witney and Richmond Park.

There was a great Liberal Democrat campaign, reportedly reaching sections of the community not contacted for many years previously. Our campaigns depend to a larger extent than either Conservatives or Labour on volunteers. Not too many could have afforded to work in both Richmond Park and Lincolnshire, so it is understandable that our target of regaining second place was missed, but our vote increase augurs well for the future. It might have been a different story if the two by-elections had not come so close together.

Labour must be worried. Labour has polled consistently over 10,000 votes in this constituency in previous years. They clearly have an identity problem.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Oh, my Crossleys and my Maudslays long ago!

Time was when we not only manufactured every part of our buses and coaches in the UK, but also sold them round the world. We must have been the biggest provider of public service vehicles to the globe. Our streets were full of Bristols, Leylands, AECs, Daimlers, Albions, Guys with the occasional Crossley and Maudslay. Gardner of Patricroft provided the motive power to those users who preferred their engines to those of the other manufacturers.

We still have bus-builders, who continue to produce innovative designs. However, the basic mechanics come from elsewhere. This was brought home by the news that Volvo would have to increase its prices to Alexander Dennis and others because of the fall in sterling. No doubt the US-based Paccar, in the forefront of "green" bus engine development as well as powering much of London's fleet, will follow suit.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The mean vote swing from UKIP to Liberal /Democrat in Witney and Richmond Park is roughly 16%. Feeding that into my copy of UK-Elect produces the following forecast for a general election held now:


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The EU versus global forces

International socialists have long been against the European Union because it is a bulwark against communism.

Free-marketeers want to break up the EU because it is a bulwark against the power of multi-national companies.

Those who are fighting against globalisation should realise that the EU is on their side.

Monday, 5 December 2016

"Going fobbing"

From experience, I would say that teachers in Neath are good at keeping children active and interested in the streets outside them. However, the education authority might like to look at "Beat the Street", an initiative in urban Salford which gives an extra incentive to outdoor activity. (By the way, it's sad to see that diesel engines are no longer made in Patricroft for shipping all over the world.)

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Good choices for back-room staff at the Liberty

I gave a little cheer when I heard that Brian Flynn was to join the Swansea City staff. He has an excellent record as manager, assistant manager and youth team coach, though he has often been relieved of positions where the new appointee has garnered the credit for Flynn's achievements. It seems he will not be directly involved with the development of players. This is an understandable avoidance of conflict. However, with his contacts within the game at all levels, his knowledge of all corners of England and Wales and two years of scouting experience with Everton under his belt, he is an ideal addition to the scouting team.

Paul Williams I knew little of before news of his appointment, but his record spoke for itself. I had not realised his origins were Afro-Caribbean until the other day. An improvement in the club management's ethnic diversity is a bonus.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Israel's submarines

Israel has recently concluded the purchase of a sixth cruise-missile capable submarine.  I reckon that makes the middle-eastern nation just one behind the UK, though "our" missiles are probably capable of more destruction.

The submarine builders, ThyssenKrupp, used to be strongly associated as separate firms with the Nazi war effort, which may seem ironic. However, earlier in the century the same armaments firms supplied both sides in the Great War.

A latter-day Yugoslavia

Brexiters are cheering the investment in London by China (this, for instance) and the US (though Private Eye reckons the Facebook investment is rather less than what was announced in 2013). Is the future for Britain outside the EU, playing East and West against each other, like Tito's Yugoslavia?

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.