Saturday, 19 June 2010

Rivalry v. Bitterness.

I'm currently writing a new blog post but I've not had much time lately so it'll be a day or so before I get it uploaded. For now, here's a quick wee rant... :)

At the time of writing, it is now half time in the Cameroon v Denmark Group E World Cup encounter. Its a decent match so far; in the past couple of days the matches have been much better viewing than at the beginning of the tournament. That is, with the exception of last night's England/Algeria goalless stalemate.

With 2 points from as many games, I must admit I enjoy seeing England flounder. I made it very vocal before the tournament that I thought England only had as much chance in this World Cup as the likes of Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, or the stronger African teams - Ghana or Ivory Coast. I admit it is possible, just as it was possible for Greece to win the Euro's in 2004, but I think they're a huge outside chance (as opposed to a ridiculous outside chance such as North Korea or Algeria). For a start, their qualification was over-hyped. They by no means had any challenging opposition; the aforementioned teams such as Greece, Mexico, Uruguay etc., would easily have topped that group in place of England. Also, notice the manager was one of the greatest in the world pre-tournament but now the recent results were his fault and not that of the over-hyped team. So yes, ultimately I am enjoying England's demise.

However, what this rant is really about is a particular tweet I read from a fellow Ulsterman. He indicated that he will not be joining in on the "bitterness" against England and so he will be supporting them in this World Cup. By all means, he has every right to support whomever he wants to. However, that I do not wish to see England succeed is absolutely nothing to do with bitterness - it is RIVALRY. Just as the Scottish share a rivalry with England, so do the Irish. The same as Man Utd share a rivalry with Liverpool. It is not political, it has nothing to do with hatred or anything of the like. It is plain and simple rivalry. Can you imagine explaining to Liverpool fans that they should stop being so bitter and support Man Utd in the Champions League final (or vice versa)?

Not that I'm above "bitterness". I freely admit I feel very bitter over the French and Thierry Henry's hand of God moment. I am enjoying watching them flounder every bit as much, if not more than, with England. However, this was only born recently, and I remember cheering them on in the last World Cup final.

The situation with England is entirely different. It comes down to a long standing rivalry. If there really was such a "bitterness", neither the club I support (Liverpool) nor my favourite player (Gerrard, England's 2010 World Cup captain) would be English. Moreover, the lack of "bitterness" allows us to, while not supporting the England team, support the English bid for the World Cup 2018.

Rivalry adds to the spirit of the game, and to the experience watching a match.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Another Unionist strategy to defeat Sinn Féin? - Nigel Dodds' Hypocrisy

Before I get started, here is his statement:

“The Government has talked about rebuilding trust in politics and the DUP has strongly supported the reform of the expenses system, and would have liked to see further change than was implemented to ensure that trust in politics can be regained. There is a huge inconsistency however which remains whereby Members of Parliament who do not take their seat benefit from the payment of expenses.

If someone wishes to stand on an abstentionist platform then they are obviously entitled to do so, but if elected they should not be able to benefit from some aspects of being an MP whilst not representing their constituents in Parliament or carrying out the duties of an MP. The current Government has the opportunity to review this situation and I am glad that the Leader of the House did give a commitment to look at this.

The vast majority of people right across the United Kingdom want to see politicians carrying out the work they were elected to do and they do not want to see expenses paid to MPs who want to claim to be outside the British Parliamentary system yet still receive financial benefits from the House of Commons.”

This the same man of whom the Telegraph reported during the expenses scandal:

"Nigel Dodds claimed £750 over two years for four tables and a table top for his second home. In 2007-08, Mr Dodds had the largest expenses bill of any Northern Ireland MP and the 13th highest of all. The DUP deputy leader’s expenses towards travel, staffing and running an office totalled £171,609."

The same paper later, in May 2009, further reported in Dodds' furnishing claims which included "£296 for picture framing and £974.95 over two years on seven tables".

This all while also occupying posts in the Assembly, the Executive, and Belfast City Council, and claiming salaries/expenses for all three. So Mr. Dodds is by no means the moral authority.

So lets break down the nonsense he has said. In the first paragraph he equates the need for the public to regain trust in politicians with the removal of absentionists' parliamentary expenses. This is easily refuted. There is no Sinn Féin voter who was shocked and appalled to see that Sinn Féin claim expenses without sitting in Westminster, as DUP voters were appalled at Dodds' abuse of the system. Sinn Féin ran on a policy of absentionism as they have done for a long time and were duly elected to fulfill that electoral promise. Sinn Féin voters pay their taxes to the British treasury and as such the Sinn Féin MPs are entitled to receive reimbursement for any expense attributed to the carrying out of their duties. Dodds also equates not sitting in parliament to not carrying out MPs duties. The vast majority of MP's work is carried out in their constituency and elsewhere outside the House of Commons.

Sinn Fein MPs use some of that expenses money to hire constituency workers, as many other parties do. This is not pocketed money. Dodds should consider those constituents, many unionists as well as nationalists. Or perhaps Dodds is hoping to politically starve those constituents into voting DUP since unionism has so miserably failed to defeat Sinn Féin on the issues.

If Nigel Dodds' only constituency work happens whilst on his backside in Westminster then it is the people of North Belfast who I feel sorry for.