Stripping the week 24-28 January 2011

>After the chaos of last week, this week has been decidedly dull , unless you’re in North Africa/the Middle East. The world watches and waits to see effects of the protests and people power, first in Tunisia and now Egypt. Over in America, President Obama made his second State of the Union, which has been widely regarded as clear and impressive move to the centre.

Back here though it was all about the economy, stupid. It was announced that the UK economy had shrunk by 0.5% in the last quarter of 2010. A significant reason for the bad figures was the bad weather at the end of the year, which limited financial activity. However, even with this taken into account, the economy was flatlining. Chancellor George Osborne vowed not to be ‘blown of course,’ but there are nerves in the coalition, who need the economy to strengthen to justify the cuts. Ed Balls tried to, uhum, cash in on the figures, but his performance was less than impressive. March’s budget is going to be very interesting indeed.

The biggest storm of the week though was not political. Tapes and video emerged of Sky Sports pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys making sexist remarks, initially about Assistant Referee Sian Massey. Gray was sacked, Keys resigned. It took a few days, but this must be the right decision. They had behaved in an unacceptable, discriminatory way. Although the comments were made off-air, they were still made in the place of work. Furthermore, they expanded their incorrect criticism of Massey’s decision into a tirade against women in football in general, and once this was exposed they couldn’t stay. VN can’t help thinking that somebody wanted them out though…

Even after Andy Coulson’s departure last week it seems the phone hacking story has still got legs, perhaps even more so now. The Met have reopened their investigation, begging the question what on Earth where they doing in the first place?

The Carling Cup semi-finals were completed this week, and Arsenal will take on Birmingham City in the final next month. Andy Murray will be competing in a final too, having made it through to the end of the Australian Open. He beat David Ferrer 4-6 7-6 6-1 7-6, and will be up against Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Liverpool have signed Uruguay World Cup star Luis Suarez for £23 million, but Chelsea have put in a bid for Fernando Torres, with the transfer window closing on Monday.

Hero of the week: President Obama for the path of progress he laid out in his State of the Union
Villain of the week: Ed Balls for the unashamed glee with which he reacted to slow economic figures

Listening to this week: The Boat that Rocked Motion Picture Soundtrack – ’60s joy!
Reading this week: The Girl that Played with Fire by Steig Larsson 
Watching this week: Series 5 of Skins


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