When the music has to stop

In the mid 70s about 50 Saints supporters, me included, were chased up Milton Road by around 500 Manchester United fans. Modern football hooliganism in England was about to reach a peak that would last for nearly a decade.

On the terraces it was a weekly bloodbath. Along with thousands of others I left the game I loved to the thugs. Off the terraces it was a weekly game of who’s to blame – football or society. But the game went on. At no time during the decade of despair was a game called off because of the possibility of disorder.

And the hooligans were contained and convicted. Football was regained by supporters from those who came to bury the opposition, not to praise them.

Last night, two cup games were called off because of the possibility of disorder. An international game at Wembley has been called off for the same reason. Not because of a threat from rival crews threatening to take their loathing for the other team to the streets and the terraces with blades and zip guns. But because a few hundred teenage hoodies might be helping themselves to a new mobile from a shop window.

With the Tory government absent without leave (well, on leave actually – that’s the problem) and the police seemingly paralysed, trainee hooligans and their older siblings are having a riot. And unfortunately football supporters are missing the opportunity to make a real stand.

Instead, what is claimed to be traditional terrace humour has just been chants to invade Tesco. Idiotic supporters on twitter have repeated the same nonsense. And have cried foul when the police have taken it seriously. The England players – hardly role models – issued a statement condemning the recent thuggery and urging people to turn away from violence. It’s time for football fans to finally renounce their hooligan history and be unequivocal and consistent in their condemnation too.

So don’t praise Nick Griffin and the racist BNP for ‘protecting’ the streets just because a few footie scarves are being warn. And don’t sing songs that encourage violence, even as a joke.

On the terraces at Southampton the song still reverberates about “shooting the Pompey scum” – deliberately louder and more frequent when we are on TV. It’s not funny. It’s certainly not clever. It’s no different in intent to the sectarian garbage which blights some games north of the border.

There must always be a passion about our game. Saints must always be better than Pompey. It goes without saying. But you can be passionate without encouraging violence, even in jest.

I don’t sing about shooting fellow supporters. Never have, never will.

It’s time for football fans, once again, to stand up to thuggery. And it’s time the music (or at least the violent and sectarian music) stopped once and for all.

Hacked off about hacks and hacking

Interfering with evidence during a criminal investigation is obviously wrong. Interfering with evidence in such a way as to cause additional distress to those personally affected with the crime is nothing short of outrageous. Particularly when the only reason for so doing is to sell a few more copies of a tawdry rag.

And, of course, the remarkable hypocrisy dripping from the Tory Party about Cameron and Coulson is hardly edifying.

But having said all that, am I the only person thinking that there is a Diana scale mass-hysteria underway over phone hacking. It appears so far that some 100 people may have had their voice mail listened to.


Clement’s blog | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

There are plenty of blogs written by complete cuckoos, so this one makes a pleasant change. Short blogs are tracking the progress of five cuckoos – Clement, Martin, Lyster, Kasper, and Chris -  as they make their way from the UK to Africa.

After receiving only two messages from Clement’s tag this month and no accurate fixes, it was a relief and a surprise when his tag began transmitting yesterday afternoon. Even more surprising was the fact that he was in Spain, having moved 640km (400 miles) WSW from his previous position! 

via www.bto.org

Satellite tracking is becoming an increasingly important tool for understanding bird migration, and the British trust for Ornithology is tracking five cuckoos this year from their British breeding grounds to the wintering sites in Africa. You can follow each of the cuckoos on their journey (although one is reluctant to leave Norfolk – understandable I suppose) across Europe into Africa.

Ringing has been the traditional way of gathering migration and distribution information, but it is severely limited by the the limited chance of recovering a ring or re-trapping a ringed bird. Whilst this can be partially overcome by mass ringing of hundreds or thousands of birds from a particularly species, the limitation of only getting information from the start and end of the journey means that much useful information is missed. Various forms of live tracking have been developed over recent years which have enabled information to be gathered on the exact journeys undertaken by birds across the world. Sea birds such as Manx Shearwaters with their extraordinary travels around the Atlantic Ocean, have been followed whereas previously their rings would have been seen on shore and never again.

For further information and to support this important work visit bto.org.

Well done to BTO. Well done to Clement.

Lest we forget

I can't believe it's 20 years since Nelson Mandela walked free after 27 years in prison. 

Jailed for fighting apartheid. While David Cameron visited the leaders of apartheid South Africa to campaign against sanctions. 

And the Young Conservatives produced their vile 'hang Mandela' posters. 

When you want people on your side, fighting for your rights. When you want people standing shoulder to shoulder against inhumanity. When you need fighters and believers, you would never choose the Conservative Party. 

You would never choose David Cameron.

President Mandela chose Labour's conference to make this moving speech in 2000.


Can Saints learn to love the Sinners?

The current plight of Portsmouth Football club is not something that any football fan would be happy about. Although it is tempting for Saints fans given the lack of sympathy from Pompey when we were days from liquidation in the summer of 2009.

I'm not a great fan of the hatred that some football fans exhibit toward each other. I want to see Pompey survive so that the mighty Saints can thrash them on the football pitch. I have always refused to sing the crude anthem about "shooting the Pompey scum" because football should be about entertainment rather than murder. And anyhow we have perfectly acceptable, family friendly song about sparrows with cow sized arses which can shit on the Pompey bastards below. Below.

However, the situation is there. Pompey may be going bust. And we Saints fans have to accept that in a mature and responsible way. Fortunately the very source of the doom of Portsmouth FC may be the saviour of the Saints fan's morale compass.

The Revenue. Her Majesty's Inspector of Taxes. They have served the winding up order on Portsmouth FC. And there is the solution. For Portsmouth. And more importantly for Saints fans everywhere.

When you can't pay your taxes, there is occasionally the opportunity to gift your possessions in lieu of the tax. We often here of works or art being gifted to the nation as payment of taxes. So why not the whole club in this case?

Portsmouth FC could become the first nationalised football club. The whole of its assets – ground, players, the whole lot – could be gifted to the nation to pay its tax bill. And who better to manage the club for the nation but the National Trust.

And this is where it gets better and better for Saints fans. Fratton Park would have to be preserved as it now is. Obviously opening once a week during the season. There could be tours – coaches by arrangement, and let's face it, Pompey having a coach would need some arranging.

Of course, there would be some benefit for Pompey fans too. No National Trust property would be without a decent cafe, so that would be a nice change. 

But there is a serious side to this too. Football is in a complete financial mess and it will probably need a big club to go out out of business to make people really take notice  of what is going on. Whether Pompey is big enough – if they do go bust – to make people care time will tell. Personally I hope they survive.

On the other hand, I hope that Harry Redknap, who has ruined every club he has been involved with, gets everything he deserves.

iPhone for Labour

There I was browsing the Apple App store wondering what to treat meself with for Xmas and – bugger me – Bloggers for Labour have put up an apps.

OK I know there are plenty of ways to read blogs in my iPhone and Labour Blogs in particular. But having forked out £2.99 for the anyone-but-Labour Guardian feed, it’s nice to see a stylish Labour feed for diddly-squat.

Go check it out.

Climate change deniers, creationists, and Conservatives

This is the opening video from the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.

Interesting to see the number of right wing deniers of climate change theory (are there any left wing deniers?) already on YouTube complaining about state control and tax rises arising from the climate change hoax. I wonder to what extent there is a correlation between climate change deniers and creationists? 

Of course, there is no reason that a creationists shouldn't accept that the impact of people on climate change is a reality. Apart from the fact that they are A: bonkers and B: ….oh, no need for the B:

Hopefully there will be sufficient progress in Copenhagen to ensure that climate change remains top of the agenda for our politicians (of course in the UK, that also means returning a Labour Government next year). A big worry will remain, acording to the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is that the carbon parts per million target will be agreed at too high a level to prevent the acidification of our oceans.

Coral bleaching, on top of damage through fishing and pollution, could lead to the loss of 60 per cent of coral reefs within the next 20 years according to the study leader Pavan Sukhdev.

The Conservative Party under Cameron have set out time and again that they are opposed to targets and opposed to legislative intervention to reduce the impact of our industrial society on the future climate. as a recent example, Cameron wants TVs to switch off (rather than have a standby mode) but only if it is in the interests of the profits of his friends rather than the interests of the planet.

It is already difficult to identify clear blue water between Cameron, creationists and climate change deniers at the moment. And if Cameron gets elected it will become increasingly difficult to identify clear blue water.

The biggest wins are against the odds…

Labour is always fighting against the odds. Even when we've had a substantial commons majority, the fourth estate, the Lords, Uncle Tom Cobley have lined up to make change in favour of the ordinary decent hard-working individuals and families of the UK a fight against the odds.

The viral campaign to launch Labour's latest Party Political Broadcast has also picked up on the theme of one person's struggle to get their message across.

And I'm more than happy to share the sentiment. And share the video. Lest we forget.