Sport

Teasing Gooners - Mourinho to the Emirates?

20 Jan 2013 at 16:15

Oh dear. Arsenal fans really are sensitive little flowers, are they not? Indeed, not only that, the majority of Gooners on Twitter seem to have both a sense of humour failure and a massive inferiority complex. Let me explain.

Yesterday lunchtime I was driving to West Ham listening to 5 Live Sport (apols to Ken and David). Someone made the point that Jose Mourinho has told friends he intends to return to England in the summer. Curiously they didn’t speculate about which club he might end up at, so I started thinking about it myself. Here’s how my thought process went…

Manchester United – Unlikely as Fergie has a couple of seasons left in him
Manchester City – Possibly, but not if he ever wants the United job
Chelsea – Just can’t see it.
Spurs – I suspect Spurs will need a new manager, given the identity of their current one
Liverpool – Not when Brendan Rogers comes good. And he will

And then I started thinking about Arsenal. Arsene Wenger has been a legend at Arsenal but there are real signs that he might be entering his last period as manager of the Gunners. Speculation links him with Paris St Germain and some Arsenal supporters (and I don’t just mean Piers Morgan) are losing patience with him. I think there is more than a chance that this season will be his last at The Emirates. And if so, who better to replace him than Jose Mourinho? So last night I tweeted this…

And then the floodgates opened. Now to me, that tweet was quite clear. It was a prediction. It implied no inside knowledge. It was like me saying I think Eddie Mair will be the next presenter of Newsnight. It’s my opinion, nothing more. But the torrent of abuse I received from Gooners was astonishing. It was as if I had no right to have an opinion, or even make an educated (or even uneducated) guess. I was called every four letter word under the sun. I must be drunk, said many. Or on drugs said others. Look, everyone has a right to disagree, to make fun of me, but the abuse really crossed a line. And it’s still going on! Others reckoned I must be desperate for new followers. Well, I can think of many better ways to attract new followers than tweet about Arsenal, although having said that, 250 Arsenal fans have now started following me. What really fascinated me though is that the majority of Arsenal fans who responded seemed to think that their little club wouldn’t be big enough for the Special One. How bizarre. Not that long ago Arsenal were one of the two biggest clubs in the country. It was they who fought it out with Man U for the title most years. If I were Mourinho I might fancy the challenge of restoring Arsenal to their former glories.

Mind you, I’d probably also emulate Robin Van Persie, with Arsenal being a mere stepping stone to my ultimate destination – Old Trafford.

Oh dear. I’ve done it again.

Just as well I won’t be able to go to The Emirates on Wednesday to see Maroune Chamakh score the winner. Actually, strike that. I imagine he’s ineligible. For any Gunners reading this, Chamakh played quite well against QPR yesterday. Rather encouraging actually.

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Tony Benn

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Rant

They're Not Militants, They're Terrorists

19 Jan 2013 at 21:41

Why is it that the BBC calls terrorists militants? They may well be militants, but people who kill others for political aims and cause terror are also, without doubt, terrorists. I’ve never heard a convincing argument from the BBC as to why they insist of using a word most of their viewers would never use, and avoid using one that they would. The trouble is, this tendency has now filtered down to news agencies.

On my programme on Thursday we were covering the situation in Algeria as a breaking news story and at one point one of my tea brought in some Associated Press copy, which I then read out. It mentioned the word ‘militants’ three times in four paragraphs. I substituted it for ‘terrorists’ and then told my listeners what I had done. And I’ll continue doing it. I’d love to see some BBC News Channel presenters having the balls to do it too. But I’m not holding my breath.

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Radio

Tomorrow on my Sunday Morning LBC Politics Show

19 Jan 2013 at 18:17

This is what we have lined up for you tomorrow morning between 10am and 1pm on my LBC Sunday Politics Show.

10am Algeria/Mali. Guests include former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen.

11am Adoptions are lower than ever despite attempts to make adoption easier. Guest from Barnardos

1130 Siobhan Benita names her Communicator of the Week and looks ahead to the events of the next seven days

1145 Tom Swarbrick looks at what makes a goo inauguration speech, plus Sharon Manitta from Democrats Abroad looks ahead to Obama’s second term.

1200 Sunday Debate: Who will be the main winners in Tuesday’s Israeli election and what are its implications? Guests include Donald Macintyre, Dermot Kehoe and Richard harrington

1230 Comedian Dominic Holland talks about his new book in which he describes what it’s like when your son’s success eclipses your own. His son Tom is one of the stars of the film IMPOSSIBLE, about the Tsunami.

1245 Richard Harrington MP reveals his secret life!

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UK Politics

We Mustn't Send Troops to Mali

19 Jan 2013 at 09:03

Events in Algeria are truly worrying. But it is perhaps the situation in Mali which is of even greater concern. On Thursday former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner seriously suggested that Britain should send ground troops to Mali to support his country’s efforts. Up to now, British support has been restricted to two supply planes. Mr Kouchner regarded that help as rather pathetic, which was rather ungrateful of him. His argument was that because Britain and France had a lot of shared defence interests, we should support each other in times of crisis. A fair point as far as it goes, but one wonders if the boot were on the other foot what might happen.

It is at times like this that the prime ministerial mettle is truly tested. David Cameron may well have to make a very difficult decision indeed. If the French make an official request for British ground troops, what would his response be? He will know that voters would be dead against any sort of military intervention and if he agreed to it would cost him dear in terms of political popularity. But I know of no prime minister who has ever made a military decision on those grounds. A true prime minister would do what’s right even if he knew it would cost him the next election.

So we have to look at the national security arguments on a possible British intervention in Mali. The argument goes that if these Al Qaeda cells are not dealt with, they could intervene in Britain. Well, it’s a possibility. But the counter argument is that if we intervene, it would make an attack even more likely. There’s little doubt that we, by which I mean the international community, would be well advised to try to eliminate Al Qaeda wherever they exist. But surely the sensible thing to do it to let African nations and pan-nation organisations take care of the Al Qaeda cells in Mali. And are we really to believe that France, a nation with 230,000 people in its military – double the number of this country – can’t take care of this situation on its own? Arguments about European solidarity just will not wash.

But perhaps the most decisive argument against a British intervention in Mali is the fact that our armed forces are totally overstretched as it is. We simply cannot get involved in yet another foreign escapade.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to David Owen & Ruth Winstone

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Random Thoughts

It's Snow Joke

18 Jan 2013 at 22:56

So it’s snowing. Big deal. This country has gone stark raving bonkers in its reaction to the latest bout of snowflakes settling on the ground. Many public sector organisations actually told their staff not to come to work purely on the basis of predicted snow, rather than actual snow falling. ‘Elf ‘n’ safety, you see. Some schools have operated a similar policy. Train companies reduced their services in advance, without actually knowing how much snow would be falling. This is pure madness and is yet another blow to our fragile economy. When I was a schoolboy I remember trudging through five feet snowdrifts to get to school. The school bus might have been an hour late, but it got there in the end. Today it wouldn’t even leave the bus garage. We’ve become a nation of snow wimps.

Having said all that, I am like a big kid when it snows. I love it. This afternoon I took my two dogs out for a walk. It’s only the second time they have experienced snow and to watch them romping around in it was a pure delight. Bubba, the miniature Schnauzer, looks a picture after his walk. His legs and ‘undercarriage’ were caked with snow and the only way to get it off is with warm water. And after that he looks a little like a drowned rat.

On Sunday I have to get up very early to drive to London to do my Sunday morning LBC radio show. I certainly won’t let a few inches of snow put me off getting there (famous last words). A couple of years ago I was broadcasting until 10pm and could see a snowstorm raging outside the studio. I remember it took me four hours to drive the 40 miles back home to Tunbridge Wells. Actually, I rather enjoyed it!

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Iain Says No to a Second Referendum

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Dogs

Bubba Pic of the Day

18 Jan 2013 at 21:06

Seriously, Daddy, what on earth makes you think I like snow?

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Iain Clashes with Stephen Green over Tom Daley's Sexuality

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Radio

Best of This Week on my LBC Show

18 Jan 2013 at 13:58

Every Friday on the blog I’m going to provide a few links to some of the interviews I have done over the previous seven days on my LBC show. Here are this week’s offerings.

Book Club hour with Big Issue founder John Bird, talking about his book THE NECESSITY OF POVERTY and Judith O’Reilly, of the Wife in the North blog, who’s written a book called A YEAR OF DOING GOOD. Listen HERE – 45 mins

On Tuesday we did an hour on how people cope with dementia. We took an incredibly moving call from Brenda in Chelmsford who told us about her husband’s situation and how she copes. Get your Kleenex ready. Listen HERE – 10 mins

On Wednesday footballer Leon McKenzie came in for an to talk about depression and why he tried to take his own life. It was an amazing hour, with some great calls. He’s done so much to remove the stigma from mental illness. Listen HERE – 45 mins

Following the Suzanne Moore/Julie Burchill exchanges on transsexualism, we asked on Monday, what’s it like to be a transsexual in Britain today? Our first guest was Suzie Knight whose trans daughter has competed in Miss England. This podcast has been downloaded more than any other I have ever put on line. Listen HERE – 45 mins

On my Sunday show last week former Channel 4 News teechology editor Benjamin Cohen came in to talk about how people have become addicted to social media. Listen HERE – 10 mins

If you click on the radio tab at the top of the page you can find dozens more of my radio interviews.

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Rant

The LibDem MEP Who Tweeted "Al Qaeda 1 David Cameron 0"

17 Jan 2013 at 20:19

This is a tweet just sent out by Liberal Democrat MP Graham Watson.

What a disgusting thing to do. If you’d like to let him know what you think, tweet him @grahamwatsonmep.

I wonder whether LibDems will have the good grace to tell him how he has brought their party into disrepute.

UPDATE 9.35: RT @grahamwatsonmep I wish to apologise profusely for the insensitive tweet I issued earlier. I have taken it down.

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UK Politics

Miliband Whips Cameron at PMQs

16 Jan 2013 at 12:25

Well I hope the Prime Minister is on better form than that when he makes his big European speech on Friday. Ed Miliband whipped his sorry pink ass at PMQs today. He was funny, fluent and seemed in command of the House, which even his biggest supporters would acknowledge has not always been the case. David Cameron didn’t really seem up for the fight and his answers rather proved the point I have been trying to make regarding his speech on Friday. If you’ve got nothing definite to say, it’s probably best to say nothing.

I can so no feasible way David Cameron can gain anything from this speech, and his performance today underlined that. There’s nothing he can say which will appease a fairly large group of Tory backbenchers. And there’s nothing he can say which will persuade certain EU leaders to be more sympathetic to Britain’s position. Today he tried to get Ed Miliband to say what his approach would be. Miliband deftly dodged the bullet. All he needs to do is sit back and watch as yet again the Tory Party tears itself apart over this issue. Watch, and smirk.

Miliband 8
Cameron 4

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We're to Blame for HMV, Not the Government

16 Jan 2013 at 09:41

A lot has been written about the demise of HMV and yes, it is indeed very sad whenever a well known name like HMV goes into administration. But people need to remember that administration does not necessarily mean bankruptcy. Nipper hasn’t barked his last bark quite yet. It will, however, be very difficult to find a buyer for the business, especially one which would keep the majority of the stores open. It’s one of those occasions where so-called ‘progress’ has led to this situation. I used to spend hundreds of pounds in HMV every year. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I went into an HMV shop. It’s yet another example of Amazon eating up the High Street. As a publisher, I now fear for the future of Waterstone’s (and yes, I’ll keep the comma). It’s undergone a major transformation in its business in the last eighteen months and you have to hope that this will see it through.

It has to be said that Chuka Umunna didn’t have the best of days yesterday. He toured the broadcast studios trying to blame the government for HMV’s woes. The government can indeed be blamed for many things, but HMV’s demise is not one of them. He got skewered by Andrew Neil who asked him when was the last time he had been to HMV. “Christmas,” replied Chuka. “What did you buy?” asked Andrew. “Er, nothing,” said Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary. Quite. Times move on. Just as Vinyl LP manufacturers had to adapt to the CD, the music retail business has to adapt to the internet. It was always going to be difficult for HMV and in a way it’s a surprise it lasted this long. And that’s the challenge for book retailers. We’ve seen the demise of Books etc, Borders and all the other book chains.Only Waterstone’s remains. And long may it remain so. But I wonder how many people will really follow Tim Shipman’s example…

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