Tag Archives: UK

Rock Bottom

It was not a difficult prediction to make but the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) did indeed end up in last place. And not getting any points from any of the 38 countries in either the jury vote or the public vote was harsh but hard to complain about. The UK entry was just not up to the task.

Man1902And as long as all the best UK singers and song writers have such little regard for the competition we will remain sub-standard performers. The BBC and its various helper organisations seem unable to do anything other than repeat the formula of spin-doctoring a low cost candidate as the next big thing with a fighting chance of stardom. Only for reality to strike when the young hopeful (or faded star) sees the other countries in rehearsals.

We really have reached the point where it is better not to enter rather than waste everyones time. The 8 hours of live TV can still grace the BBC schedules – but without the pretence that a UK entry will do well.

For the record these are the most recent UK Placings in the Eurovision Song Contest
2000 Nicki French 16th out of 24
2001 Lindsay Dracass 15th out of 23
2002 Jessica Garlick 3rd out of 24
2003 Jemini Last place
2004 James Fox 16th out of 24
2005 Javine 22nd out of 24
2006 Daz Sampson 19th out of 24
2007 Scooch 22nd out of 24
2008 Andy Abraham Last place
2009 Jade Ewen 5th out of 25
2010 Josh Dubovie Last place
2011 Blue 11th out of 25
2012 Engelbert Humperdinck Last place
2013 Bonnie Tyler 19th out of 26
2014 Molly 17th out of 26
2015 Electro Velvet 24th out of 27
2016 Joe and Jake 24th out of 26
2017 Lucie Jones 15th out of 26
2018 SuRie 24th out of 26
2019 Michael Rice Last place
2021 James Newman Last place

Just Like Old Times

In a sign that things are starting to return to their old ways this week sees contestants in Rotterdam busy rehearsing for the Eurovision Song Contest next week.

ESC2021As before the UK will get a free pass to the Saturday final – thanks to tax payers funding it with the biggest fees. The UK entry will be James Newman performing ‘Embers’ – a song where he is one of five co-writers. Let’s hope his efforts are not wasted.

And perhaps 2021 will be the year that the UK does well. But perhaps not. The latest betting puts France, Malta, Switzerland, Italy and Iceland as the most likely winners – with support for the UK down in 23rd place. However in recent years the UK betting support has been more bullish than the actual support amongst voting countries.

Anything better than a place in the bottom five will be an achievement. But there is a real chance that irrespective of the quality of the song the UK will end up in last place – given the attitude of our European friends. It has happened before …

But don’t despair just remember the motto of our returning compere Mr Norton OK… That’s three minutes we’ll never get back, but look at it this way: We’ll never have to hear that song again.

Nightmare On High Streets

It’s Halloween – and as darkness fell the latest political response to the Covid pandemic was being prepared for broadcast to the nation; with suitable scary effect.

BoJo2After repeated delays the announcement came of closures of all non-essential retail venues and we took another step towards our town centres becoming ghost towns. The aim is to improve the situation in time for Christmas – but in practice the four weeks of closure will blast a big hole in the viability of many retailers. It will, after all, fall in the pre-Christmas shopping peak – a time that would normally see them through a quiet February and March.

Restaurants, clubs and pubs will all be closed – despite them spending millions on providing extensive virus security measures. The office Christmas lunch is most likely cancelled. True the furlough scheme will be extended but that will not save many retailers from collapse.

However with schools, colleges and universities still open the virus still has a route out to infect new victims – and may prove to be a big gap in the lock-down plans.

This year has been bad but 2021 will start off worse ….

BBC Sinks Even Further

This afternoon’s announcement that from 2020 UK residents over 75 will have to loose £154 from their pensions to pay for BBC excesses will not be greeted with much joy or support. Especially when the BBC clearly makes little attempt to produce quality content in the most cost-effective way.

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Even live sporting events have excessive numbers of pundits and reporters before, during and after every event. Some of these pundits taking away millions for just asking other pundits what they thought of the game. A game that the viewers had most likely just seen for themselves.

Meanwhile the BBC’s lead TV channel – BBC1 – is full of tired shows like Escape to the Country – which today has reached Season 17 Episode 37 for the second time – or daily quiz shows like Pointless; where today we have a repeat of Season 19 Episode 33!

To quote the BBC’s own blurb – The BBC is the world’s leading public service broadcaster. We’re impartial and independent, and every day we create distinctive, world-class programmes and content which inform, educate and entertain millions of people in the UK and around the world. And that means that UK tax payers – including pensioners – are funding television, radio and online on [in] more than 40 languages.

Coming so soon after that disastrous last place in the Eurovision Song Contest – where the BBC paid more that any other broadcaster to take part – the Beeb’s claim of world-class content has again been put into perspective. Australia’s public service broadcaster – SBS – has consistently produced better for less; much less. But then it does have to try harder – with no licence fee income to pay for programmes that are unappealing or expensive.

Now the BBC may not be any better if the channels presently paid for by the TV tax were switched to commercial funding. But the Corporation is, in effect, operating a business model that looses over £3,500 million per year – the amount it gets from taxation to make the books balance. Much of that loss is down to corporate obesity. Time for a corporate slimming plan …

Please End This Soon!

As the May-Robins Withdrawal Agreement gets totally smashed for a second time even the most delusional members of parliament must have finally got the message that it is a dead donkey of a deal.

Few Grandads would claim to foresee the future but it did not take Nostradamus to predict –  back in October 2018 – that this agreement would be a very bad deal for Britain. Westminster and Whitehall should Drop the Dead Donkey!

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Similarly many Grandads would simply say it was just common sense to aim for the best outcome as outlined in our posting of two and a half years ago (13-Sep-2016) –  Now any Grandads with a strong commercial background would probably conclude that the best strategy would be to go for the simplest terms agreed as quickly as possible. In fact terms that could be as simple as a polite goodbye with no concessions or commitments. This would put the UK in the same situation as non-European countries and non-EU members like Turkey. So trips to the rest of Europe could involve visas (and therefore for EU citizens coming to the UK) – providing the EU is really prepared to commit to the cost of extra policing at its borders that this visa checking would incur.

Clearly a quick and clean separation would sweep away all the uncertainties but it would also upset those that want to hang on to EU membership for as long as possible. Notable amongst these would be the SNP. However acting decisively at the first opportunity would shorten the period of unrest; even if it brought to a head the issue of a second referendum on Scotland leaving the UK. Surely a price worth paying when considering the alternative of years of political wrangling.

Instead our leaders we have made us suffer all this avoidable angst without coming up with a solution that is any better than that proposed plan of a polite goodbye. But at least we have a date, in law, to leave – the 29th of this month. Westminster politicians will no doubt vote against it. Yet in reality the earlier actions of Mrs May, and those same politicians, have manufactured a situation where there are no viable alternatives. Even the EU is facing up to the UK leaving this month deal-free.

With 15th March approaching some classics scholars might be wondering if the advice of the soothsayer in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to Beware the Ides of March could equally apply to one or more of our current political leaders. After 993 days of political bluster the pent-up anger must be about to boil over and then anything could happen …

Which Side Are They On?

Despite claiming to be our elected representatives Westminster has way too many politicians who still believe that they know best. We even had a senior figure telling us that we should all leave politics to the professional politicians.

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A nice try but one that would only be valid if we didn’t have to follow any of the laws or pay any of the taxes that the professional politicians seek to impose.Currently we have a rag-tag assortment of know-it-alls demanding that a no deal outcome is removed from the options available when leaving the European Union. This is such a basic mis-interpretation of the negotiation process that it beggars belief.

In fact it is such a fundamental error that you have to conclude that either those demanding it have an impaired mental capacity or that they are fighting for the other side.

If the former they need to stand down from their positions for everyone’s safety. If the later they need to face what ever treason laws are still enforceable and be removed from office.

Despite the obvious stupidity of having to agree a deal – no matter how unreasonable it is – that seems to be the way our parliament is heading. A direction being encouraged by branding a WTO Brexit outcome as crashing out over a cliff-edge leaving the population to starve in the dark.

The next few weeks will shine a spotlight on just how good our politicians are. And most have shown little sign of being capable of handling the coming situation …

End of Term

Schools are out, holidays are here and for much of the UK the weather is Scorchio! And with Westminster’s summer session ending tomorrow we can all have a much needed break from both work and politics – possibly.

Get-Away-300Sadly our government has left us with homework – in the form of a 104 page document setting out The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Now very few voters are going to bother to read this important White Paper; especially at the start of the holidays. And the few that do try might change their minds by page one – which starts out –

In the referendum on 23 June 2016 – the largest ever democratic exercise in the United Kingdom – the British people voted to leave the European Union.

And that is what we will do – leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, ending free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in this country, leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, and ending the days of sending vast sums of money to the EU every year. We will take back control of our money, laws, and borders, and begin a new exciting chapter in our nation’s history.

Even those with little interest in politics may be able to spot some issues already – just two paragraphs in. For example taking back control of our money – when exactly did we cede control of the pound to the EU? And ending the days of sending vast sums of money seems to ignore the £39,000 million already promised to be sent to the EU in the years after 2019. And stopping free movement can never happen as long as there is an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic – since simply flying to Dublin, from say Athens, will still provide an open door into the UK.

But, in reality, what we the general public think of this plan has little importance. It is what the EU thinks that is the next big issue. And things have not started well.

Just one day after its release The Guardian reported –  The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has forensically picked apart Theresa May’s white paper after a meeting of the EU27, warning that the prime minister had failed to offer Brussels a firm basis for the negotiations. While The Irish Times led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.

So new boy Dominic Raab may have to cut short his holidays as Barnier told reporters: We have a lot of work to do with our teams. There are, as you know, 13 weeks left, before the October European council. In this time, short time, we have two things to do. We must finalise the withdrawal agreement and we are not yet there on governance.

However at least one man in Whitehall should be able to enjoy an even more luxurious break this summer considering the extra £20,000 he apparently received for simply doing his report-writing job. Go Olly!