Wednesday, 29 December 2010

But who decides?

Let's see how this 'Big Society' thing works shall we?

People could give to charity every time they use bank cards in shops or at cash machines, the government has said.
 So you mean beyond the collection tins on many shop counters, the charity muggers on the high street, the envelopes dropped through your letterbox and the door to door collectors, the government has decided we need more opportunity to give to charity?

They could also be prompted to give money when they fill in tax returns, or apply for passports and driving licences, the Cabinet Office suggested.

We're already prompted to give money when we do all those things, that's the reason we have to do those things in the first place. What they mean to say is we could be prompted to give more money.

Lottery winners would get thank-you letters from ministers if they donated large sums to good causes.

Oh, that would be the icing on the cake, wouldn't it? Only a politician would think that winning a lottery prize would be made better by some arseclown, who is probably due to be sacked, voted out or convicted of stealing the equivalent of a nice lottery win from the taxpayer, sending a letter telling you what a good little drone you are.

But here's the thing, who decides what constitutes a 'good cause'? Of all the big charities, the only two I have any faith in are the RNLI and Help for Heroes. As far as I know, neither of these two take any cash from taxes. Both these charities save lives. Both these charities stand for what I believe charities should do. I'm betting that the 'good causes' the politicians have in mind are probably made up of the usual suspects: the RSPCA, who seem to no longer really care about the animals, all they care about are prosecutions and taking people to court to make them donate. The NSPCC, who spend most of their time spreading fear about noncism and picking the very lowest of the low hanging fruit. ASH who, well, go see Dick and Leggy.

To me, this looks like a scheme to get even more money out of our pockets and into those of organisations who already take a hefty portion of their income from the tax pot. You and I are well aware of the fake charity scam, but the vast majority of people aren't. When the subject arises and I explain my objections, I am looked at as if I've just said the moon is actually a giant vanilla cheesecake and the Royal Family are alien zombie robot lizards from space.

'But, but, they're charities.' It does not compute. It's kinda like pointing out to a seven year old child that Father Christmas doesn't exist. The bottom lip goes out, it is contrary to the evidence available. The TV goes on about him, he saw him at the shopping centre, the toys from Santa arrived the previous Christmas, even the mince pie and carrot were reduced to crumbs. So how can this be the case?

Here's a line to strike fear into all our hearts:

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said it was not an attempt to "compel" people but to encourage the "big society" agenda championed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

And we all know what happens when government calls for something to be voluntary, optional or safe-regulating, and the preferred choice is not taken up, don't we children? Yes, that's right, they'll just pass a law.

The Big Society is goverment telling us 'give us your money, and we'll decided where it is best spent, once we've taken an admin fee, natch.'
Where's the difference?

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Christmas Message.

From Sir Norman Tedium-Custard, Head of Department.

Dear Staff,

It is at this time of year that I find myself looking back over the past twelve months at the challenges we have faced and the progress we have made. This year it is a matter of considerable pride to me that this department has performed in the best traditions of the civil service. We have been given a number of new policies to implement by our new coalition government, all of which we have been able to studiously ignore whilst persuading the minister that we're doing exactly what he wants. The fact that we've been able to do this whilst significantly increasing the tedious form filling required by our customers and stakeholders and ensuring that our most vital staff are the ones staring down the barrel of job cuts, thus entering the festive period with a wonderful feeling of dread, shows that this department is well ahead of the game.

I appreciate that some of you are fearful about what the future holds, but as I said we're all in this together. Well, you are, I'm not. I've decided it is now appropriate for me to spend more time with my pension, chalet in Chamonix and beach house in Bermuda, so at the ripe old age of 55, I'm taking retirement in the new year. I'm looking forward to pottering about the garden, supervising the staff as they re-plant the orchard, repoint the paving around the swimming pool and put a new roof on the stables. Don't worry, I'll have plenty of work to do, especially when I take up my six figure sum, three day a month non-exec post at MegaCorp in the spring.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome my successor, Dame Greta Arseclown-Um Bongo who is moving up from the second in command position in the Department of Equality, Diversity and Political Correctness. I'm delighted to relate that she's already informed me of her intention to completely change as many of our systems of work as possible in as quick a time as possible, whilst at the same time cutting back on the training resources available to you and making the new policies completely impractical for your daily work lives. I know that she's a strict disciplinarian who will not accommodate any dissent or debate while she is ruthlessly following her own agenda. It promises to be an exciting time.

All that remains is for me to wish you an agreeable winter holiday period, free of overt religious overtones, unless you are not Chrisitian, in which case I'm sure the department will spend a good deal of time and effort promoting the deity of your choice. Eat moderately and plainly, or you may find that our colleagues from the Dept. of Health have no option but to withold treatment from you should you become ill. The same goes for drink as well, so it is best avoided. I am hopeful that you all manage to get your families around you, and hope that you bear in mind your diversity training when old Uncle George starts making his racist comments over the Iceland Christmas buffet which I'm sure all you little people bung in the oven for Christmas.

And please remember, if you do have to smoke at home over Christmas, that you should exit your property and walk to the end of the garden path so as to comply with the policy in place at work. I am a senior civil servant and thus know what is best for you.

I'll be eating, drinking and smoking like some deranged Regency period socialite, but then private medical healthcare cover for life is part of my settlement.

Have Fun!

Sir Norman Tedium-Custard.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Oh no! Whatever shall we do?

I used to like the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, I especially enjoyed the episode where Francis, the elder brother, incited his classmates at the military school he attended into participating in a hunger strike. The reaction from the Commandant in mocking tones was, 'Ohhhh, make it stop.' He then went on to tuck into a nice big dinner.

Resistance is not futile. But you have to be a bit smart about what form your resistance takes.

Students occupying a University of Kent building to protest at education cuts and the rise in tuition fees say they are prepared to continue their sit-in over Christmas.

Ooooh, ouch. That'll have Dastardly Dave and Nasty Nick feeling very morose as they tuck into their organic, ethically sourced, environmentally sustainable turkey on Christmas Day.

The university, which is shutting for Christmas on Wednesday, said earlier it would seek a possession order.

Some of the students who originally took part in the sit-in have now returned home for the Christmas holidays but those who remained said they would stay put.

They've started to cut and run.

The students demanded that the vice-chancellor Julia Goodfellow should publicly condemn, through the university website, the Parliamentary vote for the rise in tuition fees and the proposed cuts in education.

They also demanded that she retract herself as signatory of a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on 8 December.

But maybe she doesn't agree with your point of view? What would your reaction be if the VC witheld your degree certificates until you publicly declared your support for the budget cuts and the increase in tuition fees? You'd be up in arms, wouldn't you? So what gives you the right to hold a gun to the woman's head?

If you disagree, then fine. But that's life, there's plenty of stuff this government is doing that I disagree with. What you are demanding is that people have their money taken off them, under threat of prison, and given to you. Why? Because you feel you are entitled to other peoples' money? My only demand is that the State gets the hell out of my life.

Anyhow, word has reached me from contacts at UKC of some very depressing news. Apparently, this sit in does not cover going out of the building for a shower, they've been doing that, and security have been letting them back in to resume their protest. And the same has held true for going for a cigarette.

Yes, smoking.

They've occupied a building, and so annoyed the university authorities that they've had to apply to the courts to resolve the occupation. But they've gone outside for a smoke?

Give me strength. Did the stormers of the Winter Palace wipe their boots before going over the threshold? Did the leaders of the Solidarity movement moderate their language to stop the communist government of Poland getting their feelings hurt? Did Bolivar use wooden swords and pop guns so his imperial overlords wouldn't suffer any nasty injuries?

For God's sake, when did our students become so supine and spineless? Where's the devil-may-care attitude? Where's the 'fuck you, I won't do what you tell me' sneer? Where's the passion?

I could weep for what our students have become. I may not agree with them, but if you're going to break the rules, then break them.

Just for that, I hope they stay in over Xmas, and I hope the VC cuts off the heating, electricity and water in the building.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Ramblings of a madman.

It is too easy to throw brickbats and not hand out credit where it is due. I try to redress that balance wherever possible. So this afternoon I doff my cap to Vince Cable, who has proven himself to be even more deluded than Gordon Brown, and that, dear reader, is no mean feat.

It has been a funny few weeks for Vinnie, first there were his frankly bizarre attempts to block the election of Andrew Withers as the leader of the Libertarian Party. Quite why he thought that a cabinet member gets to rubber stamp the appointment of officials to a party he is not a member of will probably remain a mystery.

Then this morning, the Torygraph broke the story of Vinnie's even more bizarre claims to a couple of undercover reporters that he could bring down the government. Alone. Hubris which conjures up images of Ron Burgundy in my mind. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing Vinnie could bring down is himself.

Well, true to form Vinnie has moved from tittle-tattle territory into barking at the moon, batshit mental. Quite why the Telegraph held this portion back, I don't know, but Vince has also declared war on Rupert Murdoch, this is jaw droppingly bizarre, given that the EU, an organisation he probably thinks about whilst masturbating furiously in bed, has given Murdoch's take over of BSkyB the green light.

He really does think he is the law. Although this seems to be the mark of the big 3 (plus the Greens and the BNP); the rule of law is vital, up until such time as it becomes inconvenient.

I'll bet the Tories are delighted.

He thinks he can win. I think he's a mentalist.

All the fears about the Lib Dems are being realised, to see the fall of Neil Clark (or whatever his name is) and Vinnie C from national treasures to national pariahs in the space of a couple of weeks is remarkable. The pair have overseen the total destruction of their party, and as the Tories are hopelessly, helplessly wedded to them, I find the whole scenario sweeter than honey.

Perhaps a collapse will force Miliband minority out into the open and actually make him act like a leader? This would be a good thing as I'm convinced he's a trade union stooge who is desperately out of his depth, his continued silence on everything is most annoying. Once he opens his trap, Labour will be back in the shit again.

Wonderful. Do keep it up chaps. Who needs Corrie and Eastenders when real life is so riveting and amusing?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Who is at fault?

I had either the good fortune, or bad fortune, I haven’t made up my mind yet, of listening to some half-wit chuntering away on the wireless last night.

The poor old sod was stuck in his car on the M6 near Wigan in the snow, having travelled about a quarter of a mile in about three and a half hours.

One feels a degree of sympathy, as it would appear that our transport system is, once again, completely unprepared for the winter weather we tend to get in winter.

My sympathy began to waver when I heard his plaintive cries about lack of action, lack of information (it’s snowing, you’re on the motorway, traffic has stopped, use your imagination – in this case a jack-knifed HGV) and that calls to the Greater Manchester Police non-emergency number had resulted in referral to the Highways Agency. Well, it wasn’t an emergency, so that sounds about right to me.

Apart from it could have been an emergency.

You see, despite advice from a copper with scrambled egg all over the peak of his cap, the usual stuff, you know, ‘the weather is very bad, do not travel unless it is a matter of life or death’ that was given out that afternoon, this man was in his car with a colleague of his who was eight and a half months pregnant.

No, he wasn’t taking her to the hospital in an act of fraternal solidarity. He was giving her a lift home, and found himself stuck in the snow, with a very pregnant woman, returning from their office Christmas party.

My sympathy evaporated quicker than a Scottish footballer playing in a Qatari world cup match when I discovered they were estate agents.

So, senior copper says stay at home, and what do you do? Take your pregnant colleague out into the snow to attend the office shindig?

And you have the nerve to demand to know who is at fault for your current predicament?

OK, here’s how you find out. Whilst you're sat behind the wheel of your immobile car, the fuel tank indicator needle inexorably drifting to the red ‘E’ as you keep the engine running to power the blower, look up at the centre of the top of the windscreen. Just tilt that mirror until you see a face in it. That is the person at fault, you utter, utter mong.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The beauty of crowds.

The term 'flash-mob' usually conjures up images of people stripping a store of its contents en masse, or a lightning strike demonstration by a group of concerned individuals.

I like flash-mobs, I may not agree with something they are demonstrating against or for, I certainly don't agree with a pack of criminals picking some poor sod's shop clean, but I do like the dynamic, especially in terms of demonstration, where a group of people can turn up and leave the authorities completely exposed and unprepared for the crowd. There's something energising about it, even if it can result in destruction of property and vandalism. I suppose my delight comes from the fact that some people still realise that they can get together and organise themselves without the all pervasive hand of the State coming in to co-ordinate.

There are many motivations for flash-mobbing, and the below is one of the most beautiful I've seen, or more correctly perhaps, heard. The motivation here is commercial, it is clearly a low-cost, viral ad. But it is a thing of rare beauty.

Sit back, watch, listen, enjoy and think how thrilling it must have been to have had that going on about you with no warning at all.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Just take it.

I don't have any horses. Not one. Therefore, for me to pay for a stable, hay, oats and a stable lad would be a ridiculous waste of money. Thus I do not pay for these.

I am thankful that my health has always been good, however the time may come when I need to make use of the National Insurance contributions that are taken from me, without so much as a by your leave, every month. I'd be very annoyed if I needed the service having paid all this money, only to be told that I was prohibited from using it.

Dick Puddlecote has highlighted the following:

It's been coming for a while, but NHS West Kent have become the first health authority to actively pursue a comprehensive policy of restricting treatment based on social criteria.

The policy document states that:

From this month, patients who smoke and need planned surgery will have to complete a NHS Stop Smoking course before their operation.
Patients who are clinically obese or with a BMI (body mass index) of more than 30 will also have their surgery delayed and will have to carry out a weight loss programme. Health bosses said that losing the weight would reduce the length of hospital stay and lessen the risk of complication.

It's a good job I don't live in Kent. . .

Oh, bugger.

That's alright, though, there's no way that anyone else in the county would do the same. It isn't as if savings have to be made to accommodate the legions of non-surgical management and outreach diversity equality community bollock juggling officers is there?

Oh, bugger.

I would raise merry hell if he were denied treatment. Leave aside the anti-smoking dog whistle for a moment. I pay my NI contributions because I am forced to. If I were not forced to, I would take out a cheaper, better, private healthcare package. I would pay a premium for this as I would declare my smoking.

As a smoker I also pay a premium on top of the NI contributions to cover my NHS treatment in the form of the duty on the tobacco I buy.

So I pay for a service, and am then told that even though I pay for it, I am to be denied treatment? There's a word for that, it'll come to me in a moment. . .

Ah yes. Fraud. That's it.

Oh don't worry, I am but a filthy smoker, I deserve everything I get, I am untermensch. If you drink alcohol, or eat food that does not fit the dictated standard, they'll do the same to you, too.

Yeah, OK, snort with derision. Don't believe me, I really couldn't care less. When they go after the drinkers, they don't mean you, you who sit there with your glass of Chianti classico riserva with your dinner, they mean the chavs who get dosed up on slut petrol before hitting the vertical drinking establishments on a Friday night. When they go after the fatty food eaters, they don't mean you, you who eat your filet mignon with duck fat chips, they mean the pram faced single mums who serve up fat and salt ridden microwave meals to their multi-coloured offspring in the estate on the other side of town seven nights a week.

Sail on, it has nothing to do with you, you're a good boy or girl, you do what you're told. I am evil, I deserve to be turned away. I should probably be chained to the hospital gates to act as a warning to the others like me.

Scum, scum, scum. I'm scum.

Fine. Well, Leg-Iron has hit a nerve with me, and I'll act like fucking scum. You'll not like it, but then I couldn't give a toss.

Don't take my money, eject me from the game and still expect to play nicely. It ain't gonna happen, chum.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Yes, but what does it mean?

I'm sat here watching the students, and some of their hangers on, attempting to recreate the poll tax riots. And failing. A couple of pointers for them:

  • If you want to go for it, you'll have to take the majority of the population with you. From the feedback I've seen, you don't got them. 
  • If you want to go for it, you need to hit hard and hit early before the police get themselves sorted. 
  • If you want to protest about the government not taking money from everyone to pay for your BA in Hollyoaks in its entirety, then don't start waving anarchist banners about, that isn't how anarchism works. Anarchism is the total absence of government. No government means you pay for the lot. 
  • Get some decent slogans, your ones are pathetic.

Anyhow, it is obvious that the trouble makers are a minority, and I have no doubt that the event has been hijacked to an extent by a group of people who just like smashing stuff up, but then that's life.

My attention lies away from the demo in London though, it is directed towards the left wing politicians, and the media, especially the BBC. One word has been trotted out ad infinitum today, and I'm struggling to put it into any meaningful context. The word? 'Progressive'.

Listening to Radio 5 in the car (the only option down here because music radio, endlessly playing the same 5 shite songs all day bores the arse off me) 'Progressive' is used in a positive sense. This policy is not progressive. One can only draw the conclusion that a progressive policy is desirable.

To me, progressive suggests a journey. But progressing to what? To my mind, a policy which moves us towards a country where the endless interference by the State is curtailed, where the freedom of the individual from mindless regulation and incessant and invasive monitoring is enabled is progressive.

What we have here is a demonstration from people who want the government to force us, under threat of imprisonment, to hand over our cash, via them, to fund the desire of some individuals to go to university. That, to me, is not progressive, it is reinforcing the idea that the State must take from the whole of society to bankroll the desires of one group.

As an aside, I think the whole thing is too broad, as is always the way with law these days. I'm actually quite happy for my taxes to be spent on the education of those who would leave Uni with degrees in subjects like medicine, engineering, the sciences - stuff that benefits the economy and the country as a whole. If we can be world class in these areas, we will all reap the benefits. However I do object to the idea that cash should be taken from me to fund what is little more than a lifestyle choice from people who will study degree courses that will not really be of any benefit to the individual, let alone the country as a whole. As a general guide, any subject which has the word 'studies' in the course title. I also have concerns over 'ology' if not prefaced with the two letters 'bi', I'll let 'archae' slide as well, as long as we don't get thousands of them.

I digress. Progressive is a weasel word, used to disguise the real feeling the user wants to impart.

Progressive is a word that you will rarely hear someone outside the left use, when it is used by the left, I can only imagine that the thing they want to progress to is, well, it doesn't bear thinking about.

What they mean is 'fair'.

Fairness is a subjective term. Is it fair that students will have to cough up? Well, if you're about to embark on a university course, it doesn't seem fair at all. If you've left school at 16, trained as a plumber and have just struck out on your own with no or little help, then it seems perfectly fair.

So, can we stop the use of this word? Perhaps the term 'weasel word' isn't quite accurate. I prefer a term like 'cattle-prod word', a term that is couched in such a way that one is designed to feel guilt about going against it. It is a form of bullying and is used to suggest that we are all moving forwards together. To be frank, it makes me shudder.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I'll not bloody bother then.

I was going to write something about Wikileaks and the arrest of Assange.

Dick Puddlecote has written a bloody brilliant article on the story, so I'll not even try. I'll just shut up and sit down.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

For The Death Of The Game.

I've been a bit slack recently. I've been doing mental gymnastics for the last couple of weeks. The axe has finally fallen, thankfully I've been spared, this time. What does not make it comfortable for me is that some good people will lose their jobs and in close proximity for me. Whilst I'm relieved that my execution has been stayed for the present, it is tinged with the very real sadness that when the process is completed some people for whom I have a good deal of respect and admiration will be gone. It sucks, but that is the situation and nothing will change that, I say this in the knowledge that one day, and that day may come soon, I may be amongst their number. This is not sanctuary, it is merely temporary respite.

It is not bad news, however. My office has been reorganised and our remit and way of working completely overhauled. It is going to be challenging, and there's a lot of new stuff to learn, but I'm looking forward to it.

I mention this to explain my recent silence on here. I've not had the drive to do anything for the last few days, all my mental energy has been taken up trying to understand the lie of the land in my Brave New World.

I'm directing my attention to the big story of the week, even if a number of you will reject it as an irrelevance. We've had a former MP pleading guilty and waiting to see what his future will be, another has been stripped of his seat and banned from standing for election, the students continue to demand that money be taken from other people and given to them and some odd people have decided to superglue themselves to a clothes store in London, because they don't hand over more money than they have to. Probably because they'll see it disappear into the pockets of students.

But let's be frank, the big story has been the awarding of the world cup finals tournaments to Russia and Qatar.

The spilling of bile over this in the British media has been quite surprising, yet at the same time utterly predictable. My reaction has been to prickle at the lack of transparency and yet to remain stoic about the situation.

I can't get too animated about it as FIFA are a private club, they do not take any of my cash. However I know corruption and injustice when I see it.

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president has now done his job, he's been the power in the game since he was FIFA Secretary General and playing nominal second fiddle to the equally repulsive Joao Havelange, the man whom he subsequently replaced as President. He is, without doubt, an Adidas placeman and has delivered on his promise to take the World Cup to places it has never been before. We only need to look at his record since his star began the rise to its zenith and where the World Cup has set up camp:

1994 - USA
1998 - France
2002 - Japan/South Korea
2006 - Germany
2010 - South Africa
2014 - Brazil
2018 - Russia
2022 - Qatar

He's always been about taking the tournament to new territories, and with the exception of France (who had not hosted the tournament since 1938) and Germany (who hosted in '74) the tournament is breaking new ground. Brazil may be an established footballing power, but it is a power base which has existed in the European leagues for the last 40 years, domestically the league is a disaster with crumbling stadia, poor attendence figures and last minute rule changes to the already labyrinthine relegation system to prevent the big names from suffering the drop. Brazil may have hosted the tournament in 1950, but it is a very different world now, and recent gun battles between a very eager police force and exceptionally violent drugs gangs highlight what a dicey place Brazil can be if you don't have serious cash to hide behind. I have yet to see any evidence that Brazil has the infrastructure to host the tournament.

The tournaments held in the US and Japan/South Korea were logistically excellent tournaments. Football is the only show in town in Korea, as evidenced by their continued qualification since the 1986 tournaments, but one would hardly call them a powerhouse. Football is far from the sport of choice in the US and Japan, and yet both have stable, successful and credible leagues which hold their own. The legacy of the tournaments being held in those three countries can be reasonably called a success.

Then we come to South Africa. Thankfully the disasters which were predicted never materialised, (and they may not also materialise in Brazil), but one wonders what the legacy of the tournament will be. One may always associate South Africa with the money rich white sports of rugby union and cricket, but football is massive in South Africa, but the national team has a patchy to poor record and their club sides, whilst attracting enormous support, do not have the same pedigree as their rivals in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. It will always be the lot of African clubs to see their brightest talents head over to Europe at the first opportunity. I don't see how the legacy of the tournament will change South African football in any meaningful sense. However, Blatter was elected on the back of a strong African vote, and having pretty much gone back on his promise to gift the finals to Africa in '06, it would have been political suicide to have them go anywhere else, and to be fair, where else in Africa could they have gone?

Blatter had hitched his wagon to a World Cup world tour, and now the increasingly bizarre circus has to follow the pattern. This is how we find ourselves looking towards Russia in 2018, no world cup in Eastern Europe thus far, so off they go. Given that Russia has recently been (unsurprisingly) described as a mafia state in the wikileaks story, you can only imagine what happened behind closed doors and hotel bars (incidentally, IOC members can no longer even accept a drink from a campaign team following the reformation in light of the Salt Lake City vote rigging scandal) to secure the tournament's journey eastwards. Abramovic was involved, and nothing he's involved in can be described as transparent.

Then we have the utterly ridiculous decision to award the tournament to Qatar in 2022. Qatar, who have never qualified for a major tournament, who have a domestic league populated by a parade of creaking hasbeen superstars making one last massive payday, who have a landmass 100 miles by 50 miles and an average summer temperature that will fry an egg in three minutes. The options are, play at 6am, play at 10pm, play in nothing but air-conditioned indoor stadia, or as has been suggested, play the tournament in January and February.

Herein lies the very dangerous game Blatter and his 23 chums are playing with their own positions, let alone the future of the sport. By choosing Russia, they've ridden roughshod over not only the English, but also the Portuguese, Spanish, Belgians and Dutch. Granted the Sunday Times and Panorama stories did not help (but then would we moan if the papers had broken the story of MP's expenses two days before the election? No, of course we wouldn't), but there is only so much the established European powers will take. Suggesting holding the world cup in January and February, slap bang in the middle of the European season (when a number of the leagues will only just have come out of an inconvenient winter break) will cause uproar, and if Blatter is trying to annoy the national federations in Europe, then he's going the right way about it.

Similar for the 2022 award, Australia had by far the best bid, and of course the world cup has never been to Oceania (yes, pedants, I know the Aussie federation is part of the Asian Confederation, but still, Australia is in Oceania), and one only has to look at Sydney's handling of the Olympics, Melbourne's Commonwealths and the regular rugby and cricket world cups to understand that the Aussies are probably the best in the world at putting this sort of thing on. To award the tournament to the Qataris in the face of this, and perfectly credible bids from the US, Japan and South Korea (bidding individually this time round) was a slap in the face to four of football's most dynamic and fastest growing markets. There is no good reason, sporting, economic, logistical or in terms of intangible 'legacy' to award the tournament to Qatar, none whatsoever, and if anything this decision is more perverse than the decision to go to Russia. I am more angry for Australia's injustice than I am for the one perpetuated against England, and get the impression that some serious money has changed hands.

So, if FIFA is so corrupt, and I believe it is (read Foul! by Andrew Jennings), and if they piss off the European powerhouses of England, Italy, Spain and Germany, and if they piss off the emerging markets of Australia, USA, Japan and South Korea, how much will it take for those federations to sit down around a table together? How difficult would it be for them to call Argentina and Brazil and form a footballing G10? How difficult would it be for them to say to FIFA 'actually, we won't be entering your world cup, we're starting our own?' How long would it take for pretty much every other federation to follow them? How long would it take for Nike, Pepsi and Burger King or Pizza Hut to come in and supplant the domination of Adidas, Coca Cola and McDonald's in FIFA?

Of course FIFA would lash out, they'd ban players, not just at international level, but also at club level. Rebel? UEFA will ban you as well, no Champions League for you. Listen to the clubs revolt, look at the sponsors leaving UEFA in droves.

The result? The death of football. We'd go from a corrupt, money grabbing and unaccountable organisation, to a corrupt, money grabbing and unaccountable organisation which would be smaller and exclude all those who don't bring anything to the table. Do you think Manchester United want to be playing Wigan, that Barcelona want to be playing Osasuna? Of course not. Do England want to play qualifiers against Montenegro? Do Brazil really want to go Peru? Not a bit of it.

They'll organise their own show, and it'll be skewed for them. It'll be every two years. It'll be on pay-per-view, and the revenues will be astronomical. The small clubs will die, the small nations will be excluded. And the death of the game will be complete.

It will all be down the corruption and self-serving attitude of those who claim to act 'for the good of the game'.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snowed in.

Mentally as well as physically.

Normal service will resume shortly. Apologies for the inconvenience.