Posts Tagged ‘England World Cup’
The severest frost so far greeted us as we arrived to thaw out the chicken’s water this morning. The hens seemed despondent and stood around looking like the England world cup bid team as we allocated out the one bucket of hot water to survive the walk down the path. But it was impossible to be other than awestruck by the effect of the hoar frost on the big trees. No Christmas tree has ever looked so magical, the early sun seemed to almost ignite the white branches. Bill even took a photograph whilst the rest of us oscillated between “look at that” and “I’m sick of doing this”.
When we eventually escaped to the relative comfort of the warm shed, Albert remarked that if the villains on community service had to endure what we just had they would complain of an infringement of their human rights. He is probably correct if my recent experience is any criteria. I was helping to clear waste ground at a hospice when a mini-bus arrived and a dozen ‘offenders’ emerged. They stayed for a couple of hours, did absolutely nothing and were then driven away because the supervisor felt it to be too cold! And our loopy Justice Minister, Kenneth Clarke, intends to use this as the alternative to prison.
What we and, I suspect, most other people find strange is that his stated objective is to reduce the prison population to reduce costs. Over the past week he has announced that offenders who plead guilty will have their sentences cut in half. He also plans to “enable thousands of criminals to avoid prison and to be handed beefed-up community penalties which will be run by private firms”. Dafter still, he wants to limit the use of indeterminate sentences, under which dangerous offenders are given a minimum term to serve. Under Mr Clarke’s new regime judges will in future only be able to apply minimum terme to those whose crimes would normally attract at least a ten-year term.
This will mean that many rapists, sex offenders and violent criminals will be handed standard sentences under which they will be freed half way through their term. The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah spoke for millions when she reacted by pointing out that indeterminate sentences had been designed to ensure ” dangerous crooks weren’t freed to carry out more crimes”.
In fact she has put her finger on the weakness of all the arguments about prisons failing to reform. Given the leniency of the regimes which enable hardened criminals to behave as ‘Grout’ did in ‘Porridge’ they probably will continue to fail to reform. But surely the main point in favour of locking up the violent is that society is thus protected.
Lenient? They certainly are. As if to prove the point Michael Long, an inmate at Bullingdon prison in Oxfordshire, spent several weeks filming failings in the system. He did this on a phone that he bought from a warden. Mobiles are banned but that didn’t stop Long filming himself passing through security checks without the device being discovered. His footage shows what appears to be a parcel of drugs being thrown into the prison!
So the whole Clarke package will allow thousands of violent thugs to avoid prison and enable those that are locked up to serve no more than half their sentences. And the laxity of the prisons will ensure that whilst they are inside even the most violent will have free rein. In fairness many shouldn’t be there at all given their mental health disorders but that is simply another aspect of the appalling state of the service. That is not down to the present government but the fact that it sees the solution as reducing the use of prisons rather than reforming them most certainly is.
The lead article in today’s Daily Telegraph – hardly an anti-Tory organ – is headed ” Cutting prison sentences will only increase crime”. It goes on to remind us that there was a large increase in crime on the last occasion when Mr Clarke was in charge of prisons. The same is bound to happen again for it is preposterius for him to argue that current sentences are too tough. Last year 2,660 criminals received non-custodian sentences despite having at least 50 previous convictions.
The policy now being touted by Clarke is simply about cutting cost. Protection of the public? People such as the Justice Minister couldn’t care less, their personal safety is guaranteed! My self understanding tells me that I too would feel tempted by the forgiveness route. But the problem with people like Clarke and I is that we tend to forget the victim!
HOW WILL COMMUNITY PLANNING WORK?
In principle the idea of abolishing planning permission appeals to many who have encountered the dead hand of bureaucracy. But how will it work?
As far as one can gather anyone will be free to build an extension provided that they win the support of their neighbourhood group. But who will be on such a body? My late Aunty Ethel would have been first to volunteer. She loved bossing others about and could always be relied upon to respond well to a smart necklace for Christmas. She loved the sound of her own voice and often used it for purposes of making mischief.
The likelihood is that scores of Aunty Ethels, with time on their hands, will relish the chance to be community leaders. The more I think about it the more I reluctantly conclude that we are better served by professional planning officers.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply insist they become a little less nit-picking?
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. 1972 2. Bermuda
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which London fashion house introduced a Denim Range of cosmetics? 2. In which country did extremists kill 430 people by setting light to a cinema in 1978?
I was wrong and am now suitably clad in sackcloth and a liberal sprinkling of ash from Albert’s Woodbines! England were abysmal and Wayne Rooney did not quite match up to my build up. In fact the whole bunch of them looked very like a non-league team. Inevitably there will now be endless debate about formations and dressing room morale but the question facing English football is much bigger than such issues. The decision that has to be made is should there be an England team at all or should we forget the glory days and settle instead for a Team GB.
As regular readers will testify, I suggested some time ago that this was England’s last chance to repeat the triumph of 1966 when the then manager, Sir Alf Ramsay, had the pick of what was then the First Division. For South Africa we still had a core of world-class players but most of these will be out of the reckoning in four years time. Unless there is a dramatic change in the behaviour of the Premiership the number of England-qualified players performing in the top league will have shrunk to a miniscule percentage, and whoever is in charge will have an impossibly narrow choice. Even during the present competition we hear of more and more of the players opposing England planning to join a Premiership club for next season Given the incrediblybig moneyon offer the flood will become a torrent.
Add to this the facts that few Premiership clubs have a dynamic Academy and the reluctance of the Football Association to invest serious money in local and non-league development and you have the outcome. The supply of skilled English players regularly competing at the highest level will dry up. Perhaps to complete the dark prospect one should throw in the reluctance of the Premiership authorities to reduce the amount of football played.
Of course we can emulate the ostrich and simply hope that the prospect of growing bankruptcies will lead to a rethink on wages and thus reduce the influx of mercenaries but that is hardly an alternative that offers an optimistic scenario. Tthat will probably lead to more and more foreign owners and, understandably, they are hardly likely to see the development of talent for the England team as a priority.
In reality the only body with the clout to influence the direction of the Premiership is the fans, those who through gate receipts or televison income pay the £150’000 per week that Rooney, Terry et al see as their right.Frankly the fans can’t have it both ways. On the one hand they demand top stars for their clubs and delight in the latest announcement that this overseas star or that is to wear their beloved strip. On the other, manydemand an England team that can beat the world at the game that we gave it. They can only have one of the options. If there was sufficent pressure for a quota of overseas professionals with some of the resulting savings being allocated to youth development the prospect for the national side would be different. However one suspects that faced with a choice so stark most, unlike cricket addicts, would opt for club over country. If so, goodbye England as a team expected to do much better than qualify for the World Cup.
Viewed against all this the Capello question is somewhat academic but it is inevitable that he will depart. Why the Football Association took it upon themselves to persuade him to sign a £6 million per year contract shortly before the World Cup got underway is hard to fathom although common sense is not one of the FA’s strong points. But the fact remains that , brilliant manager though he is, the Italian has failed tactically and as an inspiring leader.Why? It is probably not too bizarre to conclude that his difficulty in communicating in the language of the players is a major factor. Unlike many of the overseas managers currently serving here Fabio Capello has only faltering English and even the interviews that he is obliged to give usually lead to confusion. Yesterday he incurred the wrath of fans, who had saved up for years to travel, by saying that England played well. What he meant to say we will never know! Alex Fergusson is arguably football’s best motivator but would he succeed with a team that didn’t speak his language?
An enlightened and daring administration would opt for an English speaking manager part of whose remit would be to work with clubs to develop home-grown talent. In the unlikely event that the top clubs would co-operate he would also have, as does the Englnad cricket chief, the right to restrict club appearances to maintain freshness during the run-in to major international competitions.
The odds are that nothing much will change and three years from now the media will begin again the long build-up to England’s World Cup ‘triumph’. But perhaps even the tabloids will hesitate next time around. Meantime they could do football a service. A campaign aimed at unnerving Mr Blatter and his cronies on the subject of goal-line technology just might work. The system used at Wimbledon, Test cricket and even Rugby makes for greater fairness and, if anything, adds to the tension.
Me? I’m back in the allotment shed pretending that the rout never happened.We ferret breeders are backing Murray and will only disown him should he lose. And we have the England one-day champions to sustain us if he does!