Apathy In the UK, We don’t need no education, & Atletico Madrid


Apathy In the UK

The recent Local and European elections saw all the major parties and UKIP claiming a victory of sorts. Labour declared that they had made significant gains which would win them the next election although polls predict they would be just short of a working majority. Meanwhile the Conservatives claim it was a decent result as Labour did not win enough of the vote as predicted. UKIP crowed that ‘the UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen-house.’ Needless to say they must have forgotten that a fox is seen as a shifty bastard with a hidden agenda but I digress. As for the Lib Dems, well it wasn’t all that some people did vote for them.

As always the truth is slightly different. Labour didn’t make the important gains needed to show that they are a force. The Conservatives votes and seats in the local elections were down whilst in the European elections they finished third behind Labour and UKIP.

Whilst UKIP despite talking about a ‘ruffling of feathers,’  gained no control of any local councils although they did make the most gains in the European elections. For the Lib Dems they were virtually wiped out and on this showing face near annihilation in next year’s election.

Despite all the analysis what seems to be overlooked is the actual turnout. Only just 36% bothered to vote in the local elections whilst in the European elections the figure was 34%.

On this basis nobody can claim any type of victory. Nearly 75% of the population did not bother to vote for any of these parties. It’s not just a case of people not being interested in politics but feeling completely disenfranchised.

Russell Brand in his interview with newsnight probably struck more of a chord when he stated that there was no difference between any of the major parties. They all have the same ideals and would be carrying out the same policies no matter who is in power.

This is precisely why people are turned off politics. Everything despite what happened with the banking crisis of 2008 is still all geared towards business. Austerity measures after all are seen as more to try and boost the economy.

For most people nothing is being done about the rising cost of living with wages remaining low. The rise of people using food banks is disturbing especially as some people are working all hours. Furthermore cuts to vital services and benefits are seeing people drop even further into poverty.

Job security is pretty grim with the rise of zero hour contracts and work fare on the increase. These are just some of the issues that the major parties are failing to address. It doesn’t help that  people think politicians are out of touch especially with the expenses scandal of recent times.

Much has been spoken about the 99% being ignored in favour of the rich 1% and it is certainly hard to argue against this opinion when the obsession is about how to remedy the economy for big business. It’s as though they think spreadsheets will feed people and improve living standards.

The electoral system needs a complete change to the first past the post. Proportional representation is something that should be considered. However the biggest challenge is that none of the major parties are offering any real alternatives. It still seems to be pretty much the same status quo. The only difference between the parties is the colour of the rosettes on their shiny suits.  Until the political system is changed and a party is prepared to represent the people and not the corporate businesses then the disillusionment will continue.  Indeed it could be argued that at present we just have a mirage of democracy.

Michael Gove ‘we don’t need no education.’

Once again Michael Gove shows himself to be narrow-minded by dropping US authors from the curriculum. Apparently he professes that he wants more focus on British authors particularly Dickens and Austen. As anyone who has read any of these tomes they are not exactly the easiest of works with some novels quite laborious.

It shouldn’t really matter were the author is from. Literature and indeed education as a whole is about opening people’s minds and allowing them to develop their own opinions. Reading such tomes as suggested by Gove is more likely to turn children off.

I wrote a while back on this blog about the perils of education is that you can be in danger of teaching how to pass an exam rather than understanding or even showing an appreciation of the subject. This to me is what will inevitable happen. The student will remember key themes and quotes to pepper the essay with rather than voicing a real opinion.

Cynics could argue that dropping the likes Harper Lee and Arthur Miller the Crucible is more to keep people ignorant rather than understanding the themes of prejudice and politics. I actually think Gove’s mindset is more old-fashioned in the sense that I believe Gove feels that English literature is being undermined by other foreign works. Furthermore I think there is an element of snobbery as the likes of Mice and Men is considered more childish by some critics.

Either way I think it is a depressing thing to do in terms of restricting literature. It should be about making it accessible and yes letting kids enjoy reading. Gove’s education policies are not about improvement but taking it back to were teaching rote is King.

Atletico Madrid gives hope

The Club side of the season has to be Atletico Madrid who have punched way above their weight in winning the La Liga and reaching the European Champions League Final. With Real Madrid and Barcelona vastly ahead of other La Liga sides in terms of money and resources it is an incredible achievement.

When Diego Simeone took charge Atleti were four points from the relegation places winning only five out of the sixteen games played. The first words that Simeone talked about was that Atletico was not about the individual but was for the club and the collective. Everybody had to work hard for the collective good.

These words were certainly taken on board as Atleti finished fifth and won the Europa League in 2012. The following season they won the Copa Del Rey beating Real Madrid and finishing third in the League.

This season the aim was a top four finish with many tipping Atletico as dark horses to win the Champions League. Whereas the league was largely considered to be between Real Madrid and Barcelona due to the gulf in resources between the two clubs and the rest of La Liga.

Atletico’s tactics is more of a counter-attacking style. Furthermore they normally wear teams down and as a result  ensure that they take advantage. Even half way through the season nobody not even the majority of Atleti’s fans expected Atletico to remain top. After all they have a relatively small squad and with European Cup football it was expected to take its toil.

Somehow though Atletico kept themselves up there although admittedly they did look like they were running out of steam. At times they were patching Diego Costa up who quite clearly wasn’t fit in both the Barcelona game and the Champions League final. This could also be said of Turan who had problems with his groin.

Nevertheless they managed to find some energy in the tank to snatch a draw at the Nou Camp to win the title against all odds. It was a well deserved title as Atletico were the best and most consistent team in La Liga.

Consequently they entered the Champions League Final with nothing to lose. A win would make this team immortal in Atletico’s history but even a defeat wouldn’t put a dent in a fantastic season.

As it was a scrappy goal from Godin (who incidentally had scored the equaliser against Barcelona) almost won the European Cup for Atleti who were two minutes away from victory. However Atleti’s legs had gone and they were holding onto the ropes until Ramos equalised. The 4-1 score line after extra time didn’t really reflect the result as Atleti didn’t have enough left in the tank.

Jamie Redknapp wrongly labelled Atleti as anti tika taka. Although their style is different nor is it a negative style. Atleticio know how to take teams apart when they are given the chance but also play to their strengths. The fact of the matter was they were running low on energy.

Personally apart from Souness I would have preferred having the Revista De La Liga team with Scott Minto, Graham Hunter, Terry Gibson and Guillem Balague who have more knowledge on Spanish football.

Either way Atletico have given other clubs hope such as Liverpool that with an excellent coach and a good team willing to work hard that you can win a major league, despite the obscene wealth of some teams. Personally it was a breath of fresh air to see someone else outside of Barca and Madrid win the league.


Brian Benjamin


Author: Brian Benjamin

I love football and will watch any game. Writing is also a passion of mine and apart from writing about football I have also tried my hand at short stories in my spare time.

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