Thursday, 26 August 2010

Labour's choice, final strait, horses for courses...

The New Statesman was, I think, first out last night with the very welcome news that Jon Cruddas is endorsing David Miliband for Labour leader. Apparently Cruddas was very taken with DM's Keir Hardie Lecture a few weeks back (also noted here.) "What was interesting to me about this", Cruddas comments, "was when he started talking about belonging and neighbourliness and community, more communitarian politics, which is where I think Labour has to go." Hear, hear.
The Staggers itself has come out for Ed Mili today, declaring that he is somebody they feel could, conceivably, become a "bold, charismatic, compassionate and visionary" leader. I'm still left wondering which meeting I missed where the younger/shorter Miliband brother offered such powerful evidence of these inchoate qualities. John Rentoul today describes the sanctimony, the small-meeting-room populism and evidently mounting peevishness that many of us associate more readily with Miliband Junior.
The NS is careful to make a secondary case for David Miliband, however heavily they count against him what they call "his mistaken support for the catastrophic invasion of Iraq." But they see him as the darling of "the right-of-centre commentariat" whereas their man Ed is the "change candidate"; and so they hope that DM, if defeated, will remain in politics as "his brother's lieutenant-in-chief." This would require extraordinary stoicism on David Miliband's part, if it turns out that what his brother is selling really is what most Labour voters want... and I only hope we aren't forced to witness such a fraternal job offer being made in the first place, much less the ghastly spectacle of its acceptance. The differences between these candidates are clear now, and only one, it seems to me, would not be utterly wasted in a backseat capacity.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

NUFC 6 Villa 0: Bad Karma

There are bitter and intractable and perfectly understandable enmities between football teams and rival fans thereof, usually based on geographical proximity, or else some historical grudge from out of the annals. And all this is good sport. I don’t know who Aston Villa – a club I’ve tended to admire on all sorts of levels – normally have their beef with, because I don’t know much about the midlands, but I’m sure it’s not with Newcastle United. So I was perplexed and irked when a significant section of Villa’s home support came to their last game of 2008-09 seemingly with the chief intent of barracking NUFC and generally celebrating our relegation to Division 2. That NUFC has very often made itself a laughing stock in the last 10 years is beyond argument: it must be why sportswriters like Simon Barnes or David Lacey still feel so comfortable wishing the club ill and broadcasting their anti-Geordie schadenfreude. But still, what kind of no-mark must you be to sit at home like some piddling schoolboy, inking out a bed-sheet banner so as to jeer a visiting team off on its way to the lower league? Who’s Your Next Messiah? Ant and Dec? That was one, wasn’t it? ‘Messiah’ is a term that those geniuses on Sky like to think Geordies are obsessed by. NUFC fans aren’t generally interested, though we do really, really like the loyalty shown to the club by certain favoured sons and local heroes, as does any club that can boast such an array.
So to today’s Toon-Villa rematch at SJP, and I was struck by some Villa texter to the BBC with his side already 3-0 down: "This isn't over - Newcastle can't defend. If we can stop them scoring it could finish 4-3! Up the Villa!..." Ah, another mad-for-it Villan feasting on ‘Premiership’ legend, courtesy of Sky. There certainly were more goals in the game, except it turned out to be the Villa that ‘couldn’t defend’, and Bensham’s Andy Carroll who filled his boots. Now, he’s not the Messiah, mind. In fact he’s often a naughty boy...
But to the bigger picture: as usual it’s clear from the off that the Barclays/Sky Division 1 contains leagues within leagues, and Newcastle are emphatically not in the top flight: the only realistic goal remains survival. I’m not sure which league Villa reckon they’re in, but I daresay they're giving the subject a mite more consideration than they'd expected to as of tonight.