2017 – The Omnishambles year

After the crazy year that was 2016 that saw Eric Cartman with a dodgy wig or Donald Trump as he is commonly known, Britain deciding to leave the European Union, and Leicester City winning the Premier league, it was a question of whether 2017 would continue to be mad or common sense would return.

That quickly went out of the window after North Korea fired a ballistic missile across the sea of Japan.  Considering that Kim Jong-Un is unstable and lacking in diplomacy what could wrong when Donald Trump waded in like a bar room loud mouth?   Naturally Trump had to raise the tensions another notch with his speech of ‘unleashing fire and fury,’ and referring to Jong-Un as the ‘rocket man.’

At times it seemed that Trump just seemed to wake up and decide to cause mayhem by getting on twitter.   Officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was one of many instances where he didn’t put his brain into gear first.  People accusing me of being a fascist?  I know I’ll re-tweet a Britain first comment without checking who they are and whether what they say is true or not.  After all truth can be an inconvenience can’t it?

Then of course there is the scandal of the suspicion that Trump colluded with Russians during the Presidential election.  It’s something that isn’t going away too soon with Steve Bannon to be questioned about it.

So far the Trump administration has been dysfunctional with people getting sacked such as Bannon, aides being caught lying, and sackings.  Then there are the problems in getting stuff through the senate.  The repeal of Obama care fell through when it was apparent that there was nothing put in place to replace it.

Even when Trump finally managed to get some success such as the tax reform bill that was achieved through utter chaos.  Last minute amendments were added in margins that it seemed as though Trump was hastily finishing that essay in the final minutes before it was due.

Back to the UK, there was equally as much chaos thanks to David Cameron losing everything on the roulette with his Brexit gamble.  After casually walking away to write his memoirs in his posh caravan, ‘the thick of its Nicola Murray,’ or Theresa May as she is commonly known took over as Prime Minister.

Article 50 was finally triggered after much debating as to when someone would press the button or hand over the envelope with a letter which was the case.  Of course to keep up the trail of incompetency only the most incompetent was picked to negotiate with the EU.  That task fell to David Davis who with his gurning smile looked like the match day mascot thrilled to be on the pitch with his footballing heroes.  He was as effective as a mascot as Davis was given some crayons and paper whilst the grown ups talked about the serious stuff.

Lying to your employer that you had done that important work only to admit that you hadn’t, would normally get you the sack.  Not if your David Davis who finally admitted to the House of Commons committee that he hadn’t nor was there any Brexit impact assessment work  done.  Rather than being held in contempt there was a little chortle from the panel.  The cheeky little scamp Davis hey?  Mind we’re still waiting for him to resign after declaring he would if Damian Green was forced to step down.  Green being the one who was found to have porn on his office computer.

Still Brexit means that we can change the colour of British passports to blue.  Something that we could have done all along whilst in the EU.  If that was the case maybe we can go back in time, change the colour to blue and we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are currently in.

General election

If 2017 was a football match then it certainly was a game of two halves for Jeremy Corbyn.  Seen as a liability by some (well mainly the right of the Labour party) there were pleas from the likes of the Guardian’s Nick Cohen to step down.  Incidentally the pleas were more from a stroppy five-year old who obviously knew better than the majority of the Labour membership who voted for Corbyn.

As the doomsayers were ready to say the last rites over the Labour party with murmurings of yet another leadership challenge, Theresa May decided to go for a walk.  During this stroll Theresa thought it would be a good idea to call a general election.  The Labour party was in disarray and this was an opportunity to increase the Tory majority and May’s stranglehold on the party.  Citing a Brexit mandate for the election  what could possibly go wrong?

It was though to be a decision of Nicola Murray proportions and equivalent of Corrie’s Alan Bradley chasing Rita Fairclough across a tram line in Blackpool.

Running a Presidential style campaign means having some kind of a personality and engaging with the crowd.  This was to be the first of many mistakes as Theresa May ran a omnishambles campaign that had to be the worst in living memory of any major political party leader.

Whereas Jeremy Corbyn looked at ease mingling with ordinary people and addressing huge crowds, Theresa May had the look of someone having to visit the dentist for a bit of root canal work.  It wasn’t as if the crowds that she had to endure where huge as it made a five a side team plus subs look packed.

Nevertheless Theresa ‘Nicola Murray,’ May continued with her robotic approach convinced that if she kept repeating ‘strong and stable,’ every two minutes it would be enough to convince voters.  Even then May still managed to mess that up by doing a huge U-turn over a proposed dementia tax that could see people potentially dipping into savings to ensure loved ones had the appropriate care.

As election day loomed May was now being seen as a liability by her own party.  Questions had to be seen first with a local Devon journalist shown the door for daring to ask something not seen.  It may also have been the reason why May didn’t take part in the leadership debate as Amber Rudd was sent in to bat for her.

It was like watching someone openly drown as May looked more and more uncomfortable.  At one point it all got a bit Withnail and I’s Uncle Monty with her Corbyn ‘standing in the corner naked,’ speech.

Despite the omnishambles of the campaign most still predicted a Conservative majority only they lost their majority to govern.  It ended up with May having to get the support of the ten DUP MPs to govern.  Somehow the ‘magic money,’ tree that she mocked Corbyn for was suddenly found to find the money for a £1 billion package for the region of Northern Ireland.

The unexpected increase of Labour seats and successful campaign stunned a lot of people including those within Corbyn’s own party.  Stephen Kinnock who had allowed a fly on the wall camera crew to follow him looked gutted as he saw the election results.  Now it was himself who had to look in the mirror as he had previously stated that Corbyn would have to do the same if Labour lost heavily.

For Theresa May it seemed that she wouldn’t be leader for long with a grinning George Osborne declaring her to be ‘a dead woman walking.’  The only saving grace was that there was no credible candidates and secondly it was better to let a damaged May take the flak for Brexit before getting another leader in time for the next election.

Even so there was still more humiliation for Theresa May who attempted to re-start her damaged image during the Conservative party conference.  A coughing fit, letters falling from the slogan that stated ‘building a country that works for everyone,’ and a comedian handing May her P45.  In all Theresa May looked like a middle-manager being promoted out of her depth.

It was another year of terrorist atrocities that at one point you dreaded any news alert in case another atrocity had taken place.  One of the horrific terrorist attacks took place at a Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.  Seeing the news reports it was hard to comprehend why somebody would want to hurt and kill people.

In memory of the victims and the survivors a memorial concert led by Ariana Grande was staged weeks later in Manchester.   Oasis’s ‘Don’t look back in anger,’ became an anthem to show support and a statement that people would not be cowed by terrorists.

The Grenfall tower block fire disaster was another awful image.  What made this even worse was that profit and the concerns of residents had casually been brushed aside prior to the fire.  It was recommended that a more expensive cladding on the tower block was used but instead used a cheaper alternative that meant that the fire accelerated quicker and led to more deaths.

As Kensington and Chelsea borough council is one of the richest and indeed gave a tax rebate to its richest residents and had £274 million in reserve made this made it all the more unforgivable.

The majority of Grenfall residents are still waiting to be re-homed and there are fears that the inquiry into the Grenfall fire disaster will be an attempt to brush it under the carpet.  For those in authority and that goes right up into previous Governments will not be held to account where profit was put before people.

It has unfortunately all the hall marks of Hillsborough were the victims families had to fight over twenty-five years to get anywhere near justice and accountability for what happened in Sheffield.  The fight too also goes on at what happened during the 1984 miners strike at Orgreaves.

Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey

More unsavoury allegations came out over Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein who sexually harassed and bullied actresses.  This incidentally was an open secret but nobody was prepared to hold him to account.

Kevin Spacey was another actor who was accused of acting inappropriately in 1986 and during his tenure at the Old Vic.  So much so that House of cards was postponed and it was announced he wouldn’t feature in the new series and was also axed from a film that he was due to star in.

Sport

There was to be no repeat of Leicester’s exploits as Chelsea won the Premier league quite comfortably.  Tottenham finished runner’s up whilst the ‘Wenger out,’ brigade was out in full force.  It shows how much money now talks in football that in years gone by winning the FA cup and finishing fifth would be deemed (as it should be) a successful season.  Instead some supporters are duped into thinking like accountants and thinking that Premier league placings are the be all and end all.  Instead of enjoying a bit of an adventure and glory, some Arsenal fans still wanted Wenger to be sacked.

It has to be said there are some Arsenal fans still showing faith Wenger as planes with banners flew over.  With signs of in and out it was as though the Arsenal faithful wanted Wenger to do the Hokey Cokey.

The demise of Barcelona was slightly premature as they made one of the greatest come backs of all time.  PSG led the Catalans 4-0 from the first leg as Barca scored three.  It was a relief for the Parisian’s as Cavani scored the vital away goal that seemed to knock the wind out of Barcelona’s sails.  Eighty-eight minutes was on the clock and it seemed nigh on impossible that Barcelona would get the three goals needed to get through to the quarters.

Neymar scored from a free kick, then won a penalty which he scored to make it 5-5 on aggregate.  Five minutes into injury time and mayhem broke out as Sergi scored with virtually the last kick of the tie.  It was an unbelievable game as the Camp Nou went loco.

Despite the victory Barcelona were to go out of the competition against Juventus whose 3-0 first leg win was enough to see them through to the semi-finals.  Barcelona could only draw 0-0 in the return.  Juventus would go on to lose 4-1 against Real Madrid in the Champions league final.  Incidentally the Madrid club would also go on to win La Liga.

For Luis Enrique who had ensured that the trophies still came in for Barcelona stood down after three years in charge.

Back to the Premier league and Liverpool it was to be a season that started off fast but fell apart half way through.  The red’s new signing Mane was in scintillating form as defence’s were unable to cope.  However the defending and a limited squad was Liverpool’s Achilles heel.  They were knocked out by Wolves in the fourth round of the FA cup but did manage to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions league after beating Hoffenheim in a qualifier.

As it stands Liverpool’s attack is second to none being a match for any team in Europe.  The rest of the team remains much to be desired.  In midfield it can be static and not quick enough to break the opposition when gaps appear.  They also need a defensive midfielder to help break up play as they wilt under the slightest pressure.  Defence is a concern although the signing of Van Dijk  will help a new goalkeeper surely has to be a priority this summer for the reds.

Nevertheless Liverpool are still in the Champions league with another possible adventure and dreams of repeating Istanbul by winning the European cup against all odds.  Football after all is still about dreaming.  Of course the FA cup appears to be the more realistic chance of silverware but there is a matter of a third round Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield.

In the meantime Manchester City are walking away with the league being unbeaten so far with the only points dropped being a draw against Everton.

Castleford was the unexpected success of the sporting world as they won the rugby league leaders shield, winning the league by ten points.  Sadly they couldn’t overcome the final hurdle of becoming Super league Champions as they were beaten 24-6 at Old Trafford.  Still it was a magnificent achievement for a club that had never won the league and previously been battling at the wrong end of the table.

Television

With the world appearing to be in turmoil, nostalgia appears to be the comfort blanket.  Stranger Things harks back to a simpler time of the 1980’s with numerous throw backs to 80’s films and cult references such as the goonies, ET, and in second series ghostbuster’s.  Nevertheless it was another good bit of drama.

Still with Netflix’s Better call Saul gets better and better and very much stands alone from Breaking Bad.  The relationship between Jimmy and Chuck is beautifully written and played whilst we see how Mike gets dragged in with Gus.  We even see the unscrupulous side of Jimmy as we realise that his charm is down to him being a hustler.

House of cards (prior to the Kevin Spacey scandal) seems to be on the turn.  Without giving away too much the main storyline was too unfeasible and hard to swallow that the Democratic party and the public would accept half the shenanigans.  That’s not to mention Claire Underwood not being tarnished by Frank’s dealings.

Game of Thrones is moving towards the end and appears very much movie like.  It seems weird that it is ahead of the Martin’s books but doesn’t appear to be the worst for it.

On this side of the pond there were still great dramas most notably Black Mirror and it’s San Junipero episode standing out as one of its best.  Channel four’s replacement of the series Philip K Dick ‘Electric Dreams,’ was also another good bit of drama.

Elsewhere Doctor Who got a female Doctor with Jodie Whittaker generating as the next Time Lord.  For some reason this got the Daily Mail into a tizz that a fictional alien character would be played by a woman.

What 2018 will bring nobody knows but as the last two years have been turbulent it will probably follow suit.

 

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Why there is no such thing as impartial media as the 2017 election shows.

With the general election only a few weeks away it is just as well Teresa May has got the media on her side.  So far her performances on the campaign trail have been poor.  Journalists have had to submit questions with a local reporter being swiftly shown the door in Devon for having the audacity to ask one extra question that wasn’t on the list.

Everything has been stage-managed with May even playing the jingoism card by accusing the EU of trying to interfere because they fear how she won’t stand any nonsense from those pesky Europeans.

The Conservative sound bites have also had the impact of a clumsy theatrical dive of a footballer trying to get a penalty as May once again gets ‘strong and stable government,’ into a sentence with the shout of bingo as the final cliché has been spoken.

Then there is the embarrassment of the hacking of the NHS computer database with the hackers holding personal details to ransom.  If it had been a Labour government it would have been a guarantee that they would have got crucified especially as they were fully aware that the security was weak but were not prepared to stump up the cash.

Journalism and the news media have been far from impartial for it to be to be too much of a surprise.  There are too many vested interests with media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch intent on their news outlet to press forward their views on the public.  If there is anything that goes or threatens their interests then you can guarantee an attack on that person or institution.

The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn are nothing short of sinister even before this campaign.  It is as though the likes of Murdoch won’t take any chances by continually attacking him.  Whether its questioning his patriotism by not bowing properly enough, labelling him as weak, or simply Corbyn’s dress sense it has been a drip, drip, drip attack that people slowly absorb.  Headlines such as ‘Corb snubs the Queen,’ or even the subtle Sunday Times headline ‘Corbyn sparks Labour civil war,’ or ‘Corbyn Union pals pledge strike chaos,’ all give the impression of someone struggling to keep control and not knowing what they are doing.  Of course you will hear people say that you can’t trust the papers but with the constant negative headlines there are some that believe that they must be some truth.

Even the media that profess to be left such as the Guardian can’t help but be aghast and look at ways at undermining Corbyn.  The likes of Polly Toynbee who wail at the lack of leadership and his policies not being credible to Nick Cohen throwing his toys out of the pram due to the audacity of Labour members daring to vote for who they want as leader and not his choice is breathtaking.  Again it gives the impression that Corbyn is a bumbling fool that doesn’t live in the real world.

The slightest mistake or controversy is magnified and used to hammer the fact that Corbyn is unsuitable to be Prime Minister.  Take for example Diane Abbott getting her figures completely messed up about the cost of extra Policing if Labour was elected Government.  It was further fuel that a Labour government didn’t really know it’s figures and would not only deliver but put the country into debt.  Recently Abbott was also mocked by getting lost on stage after addressing the Police federation conference.

Nothing though was made of Amber Rudd being openly mocked by Police at the same federation conference when claiming officers were on £40,000 a year when questioned about Officers using food banks.  To make matters worse Rudd dug the hole further by trying to deflect the blame by saying ‘so I’m told,’ despite it being her business being the Home Secretary.

Philip Hammond also made another blunder by getting the cost of HS2 wrong by £20 billion on BBC’s radio 4 Today programme after ironically questioning Labour’s figures.  Again nothing major was made of this gaffe.  Nothing about whether you can trust a May government when her chancellor can’t even get his figures right or kindling the hysteria that a Conservative government would be incompetent.  Instead it was casually brushed over.

It has had the required impact on the British public who view Jeremy Corbyn as an unreliable maverick at best.  Take for example a member of the public who was asked what they thought of Labour’s manifesto.  The man in question liked the policies and believed it would benefit the UK as a whole.  However when the journalist asked if that meant he would be voting Labour the man paused before saying ‘I won’t be voting for that Jeremy Corbyn he’s not suitable to be leader,’ and with that casually strolled off.

That member of the public is not the only person to hold that type of view.  One person stated that they ‘didn’t like that Jeremy Corbyn.’  When asked why they were unable to elaborate or provide a reasonable argument as to why Jeremy Corbyn is unsuitable to be leader they couldn’t as their opinion had been influenced by the newspaper headlines.

The media has from the outset done everything to undermine Corbyn.  From the brash, vulgar, sneering headlines questioning Corbyn’s patriotism to subtly implying that Corbyn does not have a clue and will plunge the country into chaos if he is handed the keys to number ten.

Even the tones of the questions at Labour MPs or officials are constantly negative despite the responses.  It will turn to the cost and querying as to whether it is realistic.  The Conservatives are of course asked difficult questions but then spun to something where they can talk positively about another policy.

Of course Jeremy Corbyn should be held accountable and questioned by the media as should Teresa May and other political leaders.  However newspapers and other media outlets should be impartial and doing their job of reporting and presenting the facts to the public.  There equally should be none of this sensational nonsense that somehow makes every tragedy somehow a drama.

A news outlets job should be to present the facts and let people decide from their reports.  Everyone in a position of responsibility should be robustly challenged and there should certainly be none of the mocking and biased headlines that are casually fired at will.  If there was true impartiality then a newspaper or any media outlet would not declare any support for any of the political parties.  The fact that they do and this includes the media professing to be left-wing shows that they have a vested interest.

For those considered to be part of the establishment or simply rich the Conservative party represents their interests.  Consequently they ensure that the media outlets that they own represent their views.  If Corbyn is perceived as a threat then they will do their utmost to convince people that he can’t be trusted.

Even when Labour lands a significant blow such as Emily Thornberry embarrassing Michael Fallon on Andrew Marr, (Thornberry reminded him that he was present at a reception celebrating the election of the Syrian President Assad in 2007) it doesn’t warrant much of a mention within the press.

In this day and age with the internet and social media making people more aware than previously of what is happening in the world you would think there would be more cynicism regarding the press.  However with the constant negative headlines whether it is hearing the news on TV, radio, or newspaper, people are influenced and with regards to Corbyn feel that he is to be mistrusted.

The media is very much an important tool and if you have it behind you then it can help the most mediocre politician.  Crude as Teresa May’s slogans are the constant drip, drip of the Conservatives providing a ‘strong and stable government,’ whilst ‘Corbyn is ineffective,’ will seep into people’s minds come polling day.

It is a pity that we don’t have a real fair and impartial press that holds all political parties to account thus allowing the population to make a considered judgement from the facts.  Certainly the media in its current guise cannot be relied on.