Archive for ‘Stripping the Week’

January 28, 2011

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

January 21, 2011

Stripping the Week 17-21st January 2011

>The last 24 hours of this week have bee so dramatic, that Monday through to Wednesday seem utterly insignificant. Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson has resigned his role, citing personal problems. These are believed to be an affair between his wife, and one of the police officers meant to protect them. He will be replaced by Ed Balls, who spent most of the leadership campaign pitching for this job. He will move into Ed Miliband’s suite of offices in Norman Shaw South in Parliament, and there will be a combined Shadow Chancellor/Leader media operation. The sons of Brown are well and truly in charge at the moment.

As Westminster was getting used to that, Andy Coulson decided to use the cover of Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry to announce his resignation, after mounting pressure from the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Funnily enough people still noticed… Coulson was  patronisingly thought of as the Essex boy done good amongst the Notting Hill Cameroons, but he was more than that. Very close to the Prime Minister, deeply influential, Coulson will leave a great hole in the Downing Street operation.

Early in the week, students protesting to save the EMA had managed to do so without violence and lobbing fire extinguishers. However, the vote still passed the commons. Over in the other place, the Labour Lords are still filibustering the legislation that would bring about a referendum about introducing a fairer voting systems. The irony.

In amongst all that, Michael Gove endorsed a coalition electoral pact at the dispatch box, and footballer Clarke Carlisle become the best coalition spokesman on Question Time for a while. Oh, and Darren Bent became the first major mover of the transfer window, as Sunderland were forced to let him go to Aston Villa for up to £24 million.

Think everyone needs a lie down this weekend….

Hero of the week: Clarke Carlisle
Villain of the week: George Galloway – As foul as Carlisle was good on Question Time.

Listening to this week: Emma’s Imagination – Stand Still
Watching this week: Blair at Chilcot
Reading the week: Wired magazine’s thoughts on Cameron’s Silicon Roundabout

January 14, 2011

Stripping the week 10-14 January 2011

>Last Saturday Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while speaking to constituents at a public meeting, the bullet passing through her brain. Yesterday she opened her eyes for the first time. Others, including a 9 year old girl born on September 11 2001, and a federal Judge, did not survive. The terrible incident has got Americans questioning the tone of their political rhetoric. Except it seems nobody told Sarah Palin. In her response to criticism over the campaign map which had rifle cross hairs over congressional districts, she accused the left and the media of a ‘blood libel’. This anti-semitic remark prompted much criticism. President Obama gave a deeply moving speech at the memorial service, but only time will tell if he dares to go delve into the debate on gun ownership in America.

In the UK, the political world was camped out in Oldham this week, awaiting the result of the re-run Oldham East and Saddleworth Election. After a tough campaign, Labour held on to the seat by just under 3000, with a little help from their friends in neighboring Manchester City Council, who decided it was appropriate to announce job cuts as people were going to the polls. Labour holding a seat that they should be winning, particularly from opposition, is hardly a political game changer, but it certainly helps consolidate Ed Miliband’s position.

The second MP to face trial over his expenses claims was in the dock this week. Eric Isslely, who lost the Labour whip at the beginning of the case, is the only sitting MP to face charges. He pleaded guilty to charges of false accounting. He will be sentenced next week, having been forced to resign his seat in the Commons, and is likely to be joining former colleague David Chaytor in prison.

Another new jailbird is Edward Woollard, the sixth-former who threw a fire extinguisher seven stories off the top of Millbank tower and into a crowd of police officers and protestors. He was handed down a 32 month custodial sentence after handing himself in and pleading guilty.

Ipswich provided this weeks sporting shot, beating Arsenal in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi final. King Kenny hasn’t turned around Liverpool’s fortunes either, as they lost to Blackpool for the second time this season. Over in Oz, England’s winning run in Twenty20 has come to an end.

Hero of the week: President Barack Obama – When the country needed leadership from him, he has provided.
Villain of the week: Eric Isslely

Reading this week: The Elle interview with Cheryl Cole 
Listening to this week: Dr. Evan Harris being very patient with Hazel Blears on Tony Livesey’s excellent by-election night program on 5Live.
Watching this week: The new series of Glee

January 7, 2011

>Stripping the week 3-7 January 2011

>The new year has begun with England winning the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years. A magnificent 3-1 victory, comprising of three wins by an innings, was secured in the early hours of this morning when Chris Tremlett knocked Michael Beer’s stumps out the ground. England linchpin Paul Collingwood has decided to end his test career on a high, retiring at the end of this mornings test.

Things are looking less optimistic for some premier league managers though. Woy Hodgson, Avram Grant, and Carolo Ancelloti are all walking the sacking tightrope after watching their teams get embarrassed during the week. Meanwhile Alex Ferguson is laughing, as every result on Wednesday night went his teams way.

The big political story of the week has happened today, with former Bury North Labour MP David Chaytor to became the first person sent to prison over expenses. Ha has been convicted of false accounting and told to spend 18 months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

The row over control orders within the coalition is still going on, although if Clegg’s speech on civil liberties today is anything to go by, the liberal voices within it are being heard the loudest. Ed Balls couldn’t resist playing politics though…

Residents of Oldham East and Saddleworth are still in the grips of by-election fever. Cameron continues to face allegations of providing cover for the Lib Dems, but perhaps the truth is the Conservatives are just not going to do very well in this particular byelection!

Hero of the week – Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss for guiding England to a magnificent Ashes victory down under
Villain of the week – David Chaytor because he now is one, officially.

Listening to this week – The specialist DJ takeover of daytime on Radio 1
Reading this week – Private Eye magazine
Watching this week – The Ashes 5th Test

December 17, 2010

>Stripping the week 13-17 December 2010

>So, it transpires, there is political life after fees. This week the writ was moved for the Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election. Labour are currently heavy favourites for the race to succeed Phil Woolas, but the Lib Dems were only 103 votes behind in May, and even the Conservatives seem a bit interested in this one, despite playing down their chances.

On the back of the fees mess, Ed Miliband tried to woo Lib Dem MPs and supporters with the help of former lefty party advisor Richard Grayson. The flocks of disillusioned Lib Dems have thus far not been very forthcoming… VN can’t work out why.

Sam Allardyce become the next manager to be decapitated by axe wieleding, football illiterate owners,   following on from Chris Hughton’s disgraceful sacking by Newcastle. Meanwhile, West Ham’s Avram Grant has only three games left to save his hapless Hammers, and his job. VN can’t help thinking he has been offered a rather good escape slide.

Over in Oz, the 3rd test is tantalisingly poised, with both teams rattling through the batting line ups. Better get that coffee on and bed in for the all nighter, it could not be on much longer! If England win the test, the will be guranteed to at least retain the Ashes.

Listening to this week: ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ by Mariah Carey
Reading this week: “Versus” on Radio 1 with Zane Lowe, Pete Tonge and Annie Mac.
Watching this week: Mad Men Series 1

Hero of the week: Lorely Burt, for making Ed Balls squirm.
Villain of the week: Ed Miliband, for his shameless courting and refusal to take responsibility for previous Labour policy.

December 10, 2010

>Stripping the week 6-10 December 2010

>There has been chaos and high drama in the streets once again this week.

Yes, Corrie went big to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary, with a week branded ‘four funerals and a wedding’. Monday started it all with, a tram crashing into the iconic cobbled streets. Yesterdays live episode to the body count to three down…so one more to go…

Violence engulfed Westminster as students took to the street to oppose a rise in tuition fees yesterday. However, the activists that wanted to get something done when into parliament and lobbied their MP in a reasonable manner. Despite this opposition and an MPs rebellion the fees rise passed by 21 votes.

The most ironic thing about yesterday was that, having been caught up in the violence on Regent Street, Camilla and Charles managed to be the protestors to the front page thanks to this picture:

Picture via The Guardian
VN suspects that the anarchists posing as protestors must be really annoyed that Royalty has got more coverage than them.
Radio 4 is normally as station one associates with calm, intelligence and integrity. However, James Naughtie, when introducing Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, inadvertently offended most of middle-England by getting his surname muddled.
It had all got a bit calm and boring for Newcastle United, who disgustingly sacked Chris Hughton as manager this week. Alan Pardew of all people will be his replacement. Why would anyone want that job? All four English team will be in the next stage of the Champions league too, with Arsenal joining already qualified Tottenham, Chelsea, and Manchester United in the last 16. Tottenham finished above holders Inter Milan to qualify top of their group in their Champions League debut season.
Over in Oz, England secured a 1-0 series lead in the early hours of Monday more, and should resume the Ashes full of confidence. The only downside for them has been the loss of Stuart Broad.
Listening to this week: ‘Bud, sweat and beers’ by Devlin
Reading this week:  The Wikileaks cables
Watching this week: The Coronation Street tram crash drama

Hero of the week: Liu Xiaobo – who became the third person to be awarded the Noble Peace Prize while in prison.
Villan of the week: Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United.
November 19, 2010

>Stripping the Week 14-19 November 2010

>Everyone buy a new frock, there’s a wedding afoot! Yes, after seven years together Prince William and Catherine Middleton are finally tying the knot. He apparently proposed while they were on a trip in Kenya, and the news was apparently greeted by an expletive riddled outburst by younger brother Harry. VN suspects he won’t be in charge of the stag-do’s fancy dress theme

According to David Cameron’s enterprise adviser Lord Young, we’ve ‘never had it so good’. Neither has he, as he now has a lot more free time after being fired in good old fired/resignation

England have certainly had it better on the football pitch though. A dismal performance, by an admittedly young team, saw Capello’s team lucky to lose just 2-1 to the only team who managed to have a worse World Cup than them. Andy Carroll’s debut provided a silver lining, but the cloud over the three lions is looking increasingly heavy.

Hero of the week: Jon Stewart – for the brilliant ‘It Gets Worse’ video in support of repealing ‘Don’t ask Don’t Tell: 
Villain of the week: Fabio Capello

Listening to this week: Far East Movement – Like A G6
Reading this week: I – The new mini 20p paper from the Independent
Watching this week: Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention – actually amazing!
November 12, 2010

>Stripping the Week 7-12 November 2010

>This week London turned into Paris. Led by Comrade Porter, 50,000 students and lecturers descended onto Westminster to show their opposition to proposed rises in tuition fees, and cuts to education. While it would be deeply unfair to not point out that most of the march passed peacefully, what will remain in everyones memory are the scenes of violence at Millbank Tower, where Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) is housed. There were also smaller scenes of disruption outside Liberal Democrat HQ in Cowley Street, and no severe damage reported. VN fears that the legitimate case surrounding higher fears just got tossed away, like the fire extinguisher off the top of Millbank.

Picture via Guido Fawkes

Dramatic domestic events rather overshadowed the Prime Minister’s trip to China. He led his delegation on a business mission, and a controversially defiant decision to wear poppies. This stoked memories of the opium wars for the Chinese, but should be praised by the British as working with, not bowing down to Beijing’s every whim. 

This week has also brought the new that three former Labour MPs will face court over their expenses. At the same time Phil Woolas continues in vain to get a judicial review into the decision to void his election.

Hero of the week: Whoever swung it so there was no Lib Dem on Question Time this week!
Villain of the week: The idiots on the top of Millbank Tower

Listening to this week: Florence and the Machine – Lungs
Reading this week:  DJ Mag top 100 issue
Watching this week: An awfully dull Manchester derby

November 5, 2010

>Stripping the Week 1-5 November 2010

>This week President Obama faced the biggest test of his presidency thus far as Americans went to the polls, but  that was nothing compared to what faced the men in white at White Hart Lane. [You’re so fired, Neutrality Ed]. Inspired by Rafa Van der Vaart, Gareth Bale, and over 30,000 increasingly hysterical fans, Tottenham beat the European Champions and are now on the verge of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

Over the pond Americans face an altered, and slightly more bonkers, political establishment after the election of some Tea Party members. The looney uber-libertarians won a variety of significant seats, but thanks to Christine O’Donnell probably stopped the GOP taking control of both Houses of Congress. Shame. It’s alright though, because she’s not a witch…she’s just mad. Talking of right wing loons, Nigel Farage has returned as leader of UKIP, which is nice.

Elections also took centre stage in the UK too, as Phil Woolas’ election in Oldham East and Saddleworth was declared void. Woolas had recently been appointed as a shadow minister, but has now been unceremoniously dumped out the party. There will be a by-eleciton pending the Judicial Review that Woolas is seeking. Nobody is really that sad to see the back of him. Remember, remember the 5th of November!

Listening to this week: Christmas songs being played by Scott Mills on Radio 1
Reading this week:  Russell Brand –My Book Wook 2
Watching this week: The Daily Show with John Stewart

Hero of the week: Gareth Bale BALE BALE BALE
Villain of the week: Phil Woolas

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October 29, 2010

>Stripping the Week 25-29 October 2010

>This week Boris and Dave’s high school scrap continued in public, with the Mayor of London making a right old Eton mess of the Government’s controversial announcement to cap housing benefit. In a strange development that must have something to do with it being Halloween on Sunday, his ‘Kosovo’ comments were backed up by shrieking Goddess of the Guardian Polly Toynbee. Deciding that Labourites using the phrase ‘social cleansing’ was not quite good enough, she described the proposals as a ‘final solution’ for the poor. She has since apologised for her foulness, blaming ‘a slip of the pen’… This is of course a totally cop out given that the joy of the written word is you can write it, walk away from it, check it, and make decisions stop yourself looking liking a fool.

The other big row Cam had was in the EU. He wanted a freeze to it’s budget. Others wanted a 6% rise. The rise will be 2.9%, so Cam says he has done well.

The PM had less of a row in PMQs, as all he had to do to defeat the out-of-his-depth Ed Miliband was read out a leaked internal memo on how Ed should behave in the weekly dual. Miliband was, of course, following it to the letter.

The normally popular London fire brigade put themselves in direct conflict with the public this week, voting to strike on bonfire night. As far as VN can tell this is the type of poor leadership normally seen at student’s unions, not those representing workers in key public sector services, and will do nothing to further their cause.

No Champions League football this week, but the Carling Cup returned. Arsenal got through against Newcastle, with the help of a dodge own goal, and the referee’s decision to allow Bendtner to pull off an American Football style body check on a retreating defender. Under pressure Man Utd also got through after a tough second half against Wolves, while Aston Villa and West Ham were forced to navigate extra-time to take their place in the quarter finals. The sponsors will be desperate for the Arsenal and Manchester United to keep going all the way to Wembley.

Listening to this week: Various Artists – Hospital Mix 7 (mixed by Danny Byrd)
Reading this week: Time Magazine – Fascinating cover story on the American Dream
Watching this week: The West Wing complete box set

Hero of the week: Armin Van Buuren – The trance superstar retained his number 1 DJ in the world status in a poll released this week.
Villain of the week: Polly Toynbee – We all know the rule about using the Holocaust in your argument, and Toynbee disgracefully won this weeks race to the bottom.

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