Monday, 26 March 2012

That Tory party pricelist in full...

Not wanting to do another blogpost on politics, this is too good to pass up on. Since the revelation that donating £250,000 is enough to secure yourself a meal with the Prime Minister, there has been public outrage (of sorts). But what you haven't seen is the full price-list Cruddas kept in his pocket*. I can exclusively reveal it now:

ConservativesForYou - The ideal gift for anyone aspiring to influence government policy

  • £250,000 - Dinner with the cabinet member of YOUR choice.
  • £350,000 - You'll feel like you've been deported 'out of this world' with your very own tailored Theresa May 'Spacesuit', SIGNED by the woman herself

Look positively futuristic in this fetching 'item of clothing of tomorrow'
  • £400,000 - Fancy a gift to really make a song and dance about? Treat a loved one to a private John Redwood concert (N.B. John will not sing any Welsh songs)
  • £500,000 - Bored with the same old schools. Get your very own customisable Free School or Academy, yours to do what you want with.
  • £550,000 - Want to stand out from the crowd? Let William Hague be your very own personal shopper

Is this stylish fellow Gok Wan? No, why it's our very own 'Fashion Secretary', William Hague!

  • £600,000 - Looking for that romantic getaway with the chance to facilitate major arms deals? Private holiday for two with Liam Fox (N.B. If Adam Werrity asks, you know nothing)
  • £700,000 - Why not take lunch that one step further, and have dinner cooked for you by the cabinet member of YOUR choice
  • £800,000 - Dislike somewhere in the world? Why not declare war with a minor country of YOUR choice
  • £900,000 - Treat someone you care about with the gift of good health, by choosing a hospital or major NHS clinic to own.
  • £1 million - Fancy being the man with his finger on the nuclear button? Nick Clegg's master? The head honcho? Buy our Prime Minister experience, and for a day, you will legally be in charge of the country.

For only £1 million, you too can be just like David Cameron!
So don't delay; place your order now to guarantee delivery before 2015!

*I made it up, if you can't tell.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Oh my GOP: Super Tuesday and other American electoral exploits

Did you notice anything special about last Tuesday? Of course, it was Super Tuesday; where republicans in a whole glut of states over the pond decide which of the candidates is the least bad. Now, politics in Britain has always been a rather bland affair compared to the USA. Now, we do have our fair share of fruitcakes (Nadine Dorries; and of course, the ever “loveable” Nigel Farage); but they are mere scones compared to the wedding cake of the American political scene. As much as you can dislike the Conservatives, they don’t inspire the same level of “Oh Mary Mother of Jesus” reaction that the GOP presidential hopefuls do. So, if you’re wondering who is in the race to compete against Obama in the Autumn, here’s my handy cut out and keep guide.


Despite having a first name that sounds like an item of winter clothing; ‘Mitt’ is the current front-runner in the race to win the Republican nomination. However, he has decided to make his task as hard as possible by being as unlikeable to everybody as is possible; whilst pretending to be all things to all people. The seemingly moderate candidate (although ‘moderate’ needs to be contextualised in a country where they think the best way to combat gun crime is to make sure everyone has a gun; and the comedic dystopian vision of terror that is Fox News is considered a serious news outlet) has upset economic conservatives by implementing a healthcare system in Massachusetts that proved to be quite similar to the downright-socialist Obamacare health model. Despite being a Christian, Romney isn’t the right flavour of Christian for the Christian right; instead being a Mormon, and not one of those ‘real’ Christians. And Romney has upset moderates by jumping on every conservative bandwagon going; from abortion to gay rights. It also doesn’t help that in a time when there is growing scepticism of neo-liberal capitalists that Romney is absolutely stinking rich. I mean, he earns about $21 million a year. And the guy just doesn’t understand that when a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet; comments such as “I don’t watch Nascar, but a lot of my friends own teams” don’t go down well. But he is the front runner….


And this is why. The main challenger to Romney is Rick Insantorum. This guy isn’t just conservative with a capital C. He’s conservative in several mile high granite letters. He once remarked that gay relationships were tantamount to bestiality; believes that global warming is a conspiracy to provide an excuse for “THE LEFT” to increase government intervention in our lives (rejecting all mainstream scientific evidence) and that creative design (i.e. magic man did it) was a “a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes”. TAKE THAT SCIENCE AND REASON. Santorum has done well in states where the distrust of Romney is greatest; and the love of the wackiest fish in the barrel drives the vote. Santorum is the definition of unelectable. A beaker of stagnant water would hold more mainstream electoral appeal in the Presidential election. But for some reason he is still in the race. Coincidentally; his surname has been appropriated by campaigners to take on a whole new meaning. Google 'Santorum'.


The man who sounds like a bad skin condition is the third lame duck to chase the GOP nomination. He’s trailing somewhat, having only managed wins in South Carolina and Georgia (his home state). Newt is kinda hard to work out. He’s supported Tea Party candidates; but is also (surprisingly) fairly environmentally friendly. But other than that he spouts the same songs that the increasingly loud section of Republicans enjoy hearing: God; gays are bad; God; Obama is the reincarnation of Stalin; and a bit more God. In fact, the only interesting policies are his pro-Space and pro-child labour policies. He is committed to a moon base by 2020 (8 years to build it, I’m sure it’ll happen) and believes that unionised, full-time workers should be sacked and replaced by kids (real vote-winner there).



Romney will win the nomination, as he’s the most electable the Republicans have. But at the moment, that’s not saying much. After the drawn out battle between nominees; each attacking each other at every available opportunity; it clearly provides Obama with an easier run-in; especially if the economic outlook of the USA continues to look ever less doomy. However, for us over on this side of the pond; watching any American election race is truly fascinating; even more so when we look at our own politicians; and as unlikeable as they can be; they are nothing compared to our friends across the pond.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

FourZeroFourSix does FourZeroFive: The mad world of Sky Sports News

As I write, an authoritarian Russian with views on making sure his empire is known throughout the world has flexed his political muscles and demonstrated just who is in control. If you’re watching BBC News, ITV, Sky News, Channel 4 News (and maybe even Channel 5 News); you’ll recognise that description as being Putin. If your goggle box is switched to a certain ‘Sky Sports News’, however, I have just summarised Roman Abramovich firing Andre Villas-Boas (by far the best dressed man in football; not that competing against Tony Pulis’ cap is considered a challenge). Sky Sports News operates in its own universe. No real events in the news ever infringe upon the importance of Rooney’s latest misadventures or the ‘Iliad’ of our times; the Tevez affair. So let’s get the clich├ęs out, and examine the fine broadcasting carried out on channel 405.

Sky Sports News relies on the weird, wacky and eccentric characters that you can only truly create when paying a footballer the cost of a nice detached house in the Midlands per week. Players such as Wayne Rooney, Mario Balotelli, El Hadj Diouf; and, of course, Carlos Tevez are the lifeblood of SSN. One wonders just what exactly would have filled the INNUMERABLE hours the channel dedicated to covering one man refusing to turn up to work; had Tevez simply seen sense. But, as he had a strop, Sky Sports News adopted the kind of serious depth of coverage usually reserved to international man hunts. Tevez wasn’t simply ‘not turning up for training’; he was portrayed as the sporting world’s equivalent of Lord Lucan.

Our parents had the moon landings. We had Tevez.

The channel brought in lip-readers; to help analyses whether he really had refused to play a football match. The extraordinary thing was that Sky Sports News managed the impossible feat of extracting blood from a stone; and turned a small dispute into the BIGGEST NEWS STORY OF THE DECADE. In the space of the Carlos Tevez Saga: 100 people were killed in a car-bomb in Mogadishu; Gadaffi was found dead; Libya liberated; Spanish separatists ETA down arms; Turkey was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake; the global population reached 7 billion people; the war in Iraq ended, the Queen spent 70 years on the throne and there were two Eurozone bailouts. But yet, the biggest story was Carlos Tevez.

But of course, Sky Sports News isn’t just about football. Oh no! Its name is ‘Sky SPORTS News’. However; a little like the pork content in bargain sausages, the proportion of non-football ‘SPORT’ on Sky Sports News is remarkably low. Now, for someone who doesn’t really give much of a care for sports much beyond football; this is no problem for me. For others, who may prefer ‘hitting balls with sticks’;

‘chasing oval balls’;

or ‘hitting different balls with a range of different sticks’;

Sky Sports News doesn’t try overly hard to cater for your needs. If the sport you’re interested in is currently broadcast on one of Sky Sports’ plethora of channels, then you’ve got a chance of seeing a brief 40 second round-up of the match you’re interested in. If not, then good luck! ‘Sport’ ends after Sky Sports 4. But, this does mean that considerable time is dedicated to sport that may not widely receive much coverage. Like speedway; which appears to be some variation on ‘Rollerball’; played on a dystopian post-apocalyptic wasteland (on later investigation, this appears to be Coventry). I’d also class boxing here; which Sky Sports News state are global, internationally relevant sporting events that can only be accessed through Sky Box Office; coincidentally.

Scene from Rollerball (1975)

Sky Sports have revolutionised the presentation of sport. Whereas before a man in a brown suit would sit in a brown studio and discuss with another man (wearing a similarly coloured-suit) the results in Division One; before having to make way for a show inevitably presented by Bruce Forsyth; Sky Sports News made reading out a load of scores exciting, sexy and LOUD. Look at transfer deadline day. A 24 hour period full of enough sound effects, CGI graphics and men looking serious in front of fancy technology to keep Jack Bauer in business for a dozen or so more series. Every transfer window feels exciting if there are enough people telling you it is exciting! But that’s why Sky Sports is so successful. It takes the mundane minutiae of the sporting world and blows it up to such extreme proportions that you can’t help but be engrossed. There’s something rather comforting in pretending that the biggest issue in the world isn’t the possible nuclear intentions of Iran, the global economy teetering on the precipice again, or the uncertain future of the UK; but instead whether or not Harry Redknapp may or may not have been approached for the England job, and whether he would or wouldn’t take it. It may be as far removed from the real world as you can get, but it’s hard not to be taken in by the world of Sky Sports News.