The headlines on two different websites give two different meanings to the same set of results …
The Daily Express has built-up a well deserved reputation, over the years, for silly weather prediction headlines – and a good line in wacko science fiction reports – but its political stories are just as far fetched.
But Grandad could be wrong, the DE spin could be proved right – and UK voters could cause another political surprise.
In 1348 King Edward III of England founded the Order of the Garter with St George as its patron. And later it was the Battle of Agincourt, where English soldiers under King Henry V defeated the French, that lead to St George being adopted as the national patron saint.
With the famous battle being fought in 1415 this year should mark 600 years of St George’s official association with England. But despite this long history the saint’s day has never been a national holiday in England; partly because of its closeness to Easter.
And this year any celebrations will be overshadowed in the media by politicians and party activists chasing votes. Given that all the latest manifestos portray their parties as knights in shining armour it is hard to know who or what represents the modern day dragon in the story. Perhaps the growing debt mountain will emerge as the common threat that all parties can agree on …
Despite a solid shift away from the idea of a single European state – and the UK Prime Minister’s objections – the chances are that J-C Juncker (not Junkers – that was a German bomber) will take over from Manuel (J M Barrosso) as President of the European Commission on 1-Nov-2014.
He will join our man Herman (aka Gollum) for a just short time – since the handsome, charismatic H Van Rompuy ends his term as President of the European Council on 30-Nov-2014.
Now there seem to be a range of views on the first of the two pending appointments. And the most common one seems to be – Who cares about any of these European political appointments anyway? They have no relevance to our lives. This is closely followed by views along the lines of – Let’s just leave these EU politicians behind and go back to just being a Common Market.
Very few express any support for Juncker – or anyone else. And even fewer know why there needs to be two EU Presidents anyway. No, the main interest comes from professional politicians – and even then it’s those whose own career may be affected.
So what next? J-C Junker will get the job, probably after a face-saving vote. He will then set about ensuring that the UK comes off worse in all future policies and decisions; as payback for the UK not supporting him. But that will just be fuel to the fire for the anti-EU protest parties.
In just ten days time we will all have our chance to vote for the candidates hoping to gain useful employment as MEPs – members of the European parliament. Not that we can actually assess any of these candidates personally – except in a few, exceptional circumstances. Normally we have to just vote for a political party and hope that they have nominated the best people that they have available.
Now looking at today’s YouGov poll results it seems that UKIP are going need the largest number of effective candidates for MEP posts – with the UKIP protest vote gaining 31% support against Labour’s 25%, the Conservative’s 23% and the struggling Lib-Dem’s 9%. As a result the politically-aligned media will be looking for damaging stories to try to dampen the growing dissent.
But this not just a UK issue as many other countries expect to see successes for what were minority or protest parties before. With around 70% of Germans saying that they do not trust politicians – almost as many as in Britain – the mainstream parties are likely to be punished. And if distrust is running at 70%+ here then just imagine how much it must be in countries like Greece. So a big vote against the powers that be is likely. But then with our Euro version of democracy few senior politicians will actually loose their well-paid EU roles. So they can keep smiling all the way to a golden retirement …
Byte Lives On – Even though the original Byte magazine closed years ago a few enthusiasts have been working away to put some of its back issues online. So now you can read PDF versions of the magazine, starting from Issue 1 (September 1975) by downloading copies from various archives. As usual you need to take care when downloading from untrusted web sites but – ftp://helpedia.com/pub/archive/temp/Byte/ – seems to contain the genuine files.
Cyprus Moves On – While the UK media has lost interest in the financial problems of Cyprus life still goes on there despite the crash. And the latest news from the troubled Bank of Cyprus is the appointment of a new board of directors. Not normally a subject of much interest – but this time the old order was pushed aside by six new directors from Russia. According to a Cypriot commentator – “They have a strong incentive, recovering some of their lost millions, will have no links – and therefore no obligation to help – to big, local businesses that cannot service their loans and will abhor seeking consensus with the union on staff issues. The bank would benefit from the more ruthless management style used at businesses in Russia.” Apparently there has been a sudden boost in demand for English-Russian translators on the island.
Song Contest Drags On – Back in May Denmark won the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest despite a strong showing by Azerbaijan and the Ukraine. Over recent days a number of sources have alleged that more than one song was boosted by bought votes. Grandad has no evidence of any of this Eurovision vote rigging – but equally has no recall of ever hearing any appealing songs from Azerbaijan, or Armenia, or Serbia, or Moldova, or FYR Macedonia, etc [Letting Scotland choose the UK song for 2014 is still an option …]
The Eurovision Song Contest for 2013 starts tonight with the first semi-final in Malmo, Sweden. And the BBC will have live coverage of both semis and, of course, the final – so that’s 7 hours and 15 minutes of air time not assigned to programme repeats. That will improve the stats for May.
Unfortunately last Saturday’s ironic “How to Win Eurovision” programme will be repeated no less than three times in the coming five days – so that’s 6 hours of repeats for a programme that’s already available via the iPlayer. So perhaps the stats will not improve by much.
But still the BBC is trying to generate some more popular support by promoting Eurovision parties with downloads of scorecards, a sweepstake, party food ideas and a Bonnie Tyler poster – all apparently aimed at adults (!). But even the BBC are not predicting a British success.
In the real world the current betting puts Denmark as the favourite to win – with the UK expected to be placed somewhere around 15th by the time the last vote is cast. If Bonnie does make 15th that will be better than many other UK entries – but then there have been some truly awful entries in recent years …
… were four of the UK’s contestants in that annual multi-cultural highlight – the Eurovision Song Contest. They represented Britain in 1985, 1987, 1990 and 1993 respectively; but with mixed success.
Few will now remember Patricia Bredin, the first UK entrant, – or Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson the next. That was back in the 1950’s – days of low-res, black-and-white images and vinyl records. But these were the beginnings of this annual celebration of European popular culture.
Jumping forward to the 21st century we should have some more familiar singers and songs. But instead we have the very easily forgotten contributions by Jemini (last in 2003), Scooch (nearly last in 2007), X Factor runner-up Andy Abraham (last in 2008) and Josh Dubovie with that Stock and Waterman classic “That Sounds Good To Me” (last in 2010). Last year the UK representative was one of the few who should have remembered Patricia Bredin – that evergreen 76 year old Engelbert Humperdinck. However the apparent plan to go for the seniors vote failed miserably so leaving him in next to last place.
The 58th edition of the Eurovision contest is from 14th to 18th May 2013 – but first we need a song. And it’s just four weeks until the UK entry is due to be confirmed. Yet the BBC is surprisingly vague about what the songs are or how a choice will be made. On Wednesday they said – “.. our plans for 2013 are taking shape and we’ll let you know more as soon as we can ..”. [But then the BBC always gets gets a place in the final no matter how bad the song selected]. Meanwhile other countries have had their national selection contests and had their winning entries commercially available for months – many with videos on YouTube [including this Swiss entry featuring the Salvation Army].
Without knowing the artist or the song it ought to be hard to guess how Britain will perform this year. But there are already signs that another blow to national pride is coming up, no matter who draws the short straw next month. So if you are going to be betting then either check out the competition very carefully or simply place your money on the UK being 20th or worse ….