“Corroboration in our legal system is a barrier to obtaining justice for the victims of crime committed in private or where no-one else was there.”
Q. Who said that?
A. Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s Justice Secretary.
Sometimes I worry about Kenny. No, that’s wrong: often, I worry about Kenny. Corroboration in our legal system is also a barrier against wrongful conviction of the innocent on the word of one person, who may be malicious, may have misinterpreted what he or she saw, or may be just plain wrong. It is one of the cornerstones of a system that is admired around the world, but our man Kenny wants to sweep it away. His thinking is that this dangerous step will increase the number of convictions for rape and sexual assault cases. That may be so, but will it always be the guilty who are convicted? And what will be the effect when it is applied to other crimes?
The proposal is a charter for miscarriages of justice across the board.
This morning’s big story in all UK media concerns the Chancellor’s intention that welfare claimants will have to work for their benefits . . . or ‘dole money’ as the deeply unlovely Daily Telegraph calls them.
In fact, there is nothing new about that concept. It used to be called The Workhouse. There’s progress, George!
This will make me unpopular in some quarters, but I don’t care. Yesterday afternoon, I happened to catch the end of Final Score on BBC, where I saw Robbie Fowler make an on-air apology for something he’d said earlier. At the time I had no idea what that was.
Mr Fowler is a recently retired footballer, employed as a football analyst. It seems that in commenting, spontaneously, on an incident between two players in the Spurs-Chelsea game, he described them as ‘acting like a pair of girls’ in their confrontation. For that, he was made to humble himself by the producer of the live, unscripted show; although he was clearly unhappy about it. By this decision, the story was given legs, and it has run into Sunday. If said producer had restricted himself (or was it herself?) to a quiet word with Robbie after they had gone off air, his allegedly offensive comments would not have been rebroadcast across the nation this morning.
I had a similar experience with BBC, when I said something on air that the man in the production box felt might offend; the presenter was forced to apologise for my remark. If I had been asked to do that myself I would have invited the man in the box to piss up a rope or something similar, but poor old Simon Mayo had no choice, such is the BBC’s fear that any spontaneity falling outside its strict guidelines might offend the public at large. (He told me after the event that there is actually a form that must be completed when such an incident takes place.) The same thing happened then as happened to Robbie Fowler this morning. The media picked it up and I was subject to online abuse and threats from the sort of racist moron who seems to have free access to the Daily Mail‘s online edition.
For the record, when I saw Mr Torres drag his fingernails across Mr Vertonghen’s face, my thought at the time that he was acting like a Jessie, and if I’d been in Robbie’s chair I’d have said just that. I guess this means that football commentators and live match analysts are now forbidden to use the term ‘hand-bags’.
To complete what might seem like a silly Sunday, but is actually pretty serious, I read also this morning that my fellow Motherwell supporter, Tam Cowan, has been suspended from his BBC show over his Daily Record column in which he dared to describe a women’s football international as ‘turgid’ and ‘guff’. Tam is a comic; irony and sarcasm are his stock in trade, and so his language can be florid. The Record made this clear in a PS to his column, in which they posted his personal email at the paper, and asked for complaints to be directed there. Sure, the editor knew that people might be offended, but he knew also than many more people, including the few who watched that international football match on BBC Alba, in a virtually empty Fir Park, would agree with the basis of the comments that lay under the wisecracks. Tam Cowan has worked for BBC for years, they know what he is and they’ve been happy with the audience figures that his popularity generates. Yet yesterday they dumped on him without a second thought.
The BBC, our national public broadcaster, presents itself a a bastion of free speech. It is nothing of the sort; it has become its enemy, and that needs to change.
Half-way through Spurs vs Chelsea and it’s obvious why the Premier League sells for billions around the world. There was more football in those 45 minutes than in most full games in most other leagues.
Those who wish to study a classic demonstration of how to lose an election two years before it is scheduled to take place need only cast an eye over Ed Milipede’s pronouncements at his party conference this week.
Yesterday he proposed an overtly populist two year freeze on energy prices, a move that is likely to trigger a raft of precautionary increases in the months leading up to election 2015, and which signals Labour’s intention to interfere with the running of our free market economy. The energy companies are predictably outraged, but their card has been marked. It is an absolute racing certainty that before eighteen months are out, they will have agreed a pricing structure with the coalition, and that Cameron and Clegg will be wearing Ed’s clothes
Today, Ed says that there is no place for topless women on the pages of British newspapers. Morally, he may be right about that, but as the leader of a party that relies on the red-top vote to have any chance of electoral success, he may have committed a very unusual kind of suicide.
I used to think that the hapless old windbag that was Michael Foot was the most inept leader that any major UK party has had in my lifetime. Now, I’m not so sure.
I am happy to announce that my latest project has been completed and a draft has arrived at Headline Tower. It’s something of a departure for me, and will remain under wraps for a while, at least until we have a publication schedule.
After Manchester United side were beaten 4-1 by Manchester City, David Moyes confessed that the pain may not be over just yet. “It was always going to be tough,’ he said ‘following such a great manager with a great team and I think people with real football knowledge will know there are probably some changes to be made.”
I suggest that people with real football knowledge will think that the pain was self-inflicted. Mr Moyes sent out a team without a midfield runner, with a centre-back at right back, with £27m worth of Fellaini played too far back to do any damage and with a passenger on the left wing. A couple of weeks ago he was saying that he was perfectly happy with the squad at his disposal; now it seems he isn’t. I’ve seen most of Man U’s games since he took over, and it seems to me that there are two major problems; the way the team is set up and the manager’s apparent inability to make obvious tactical changes in the course of the game.
The signs are that the club will do well to finish in the top four this season.
The football transfer window is so obviously in restraint of trade that the mere threat of an action might scare FIFA into a compromise. I hope so.
A couple of weeks ago I had an email from SAGA, also known around our house as ‘Sex And Games for the Aged’.
Since I turned 50 I’ve been bombarded with cold-call mail from that organisation. I used them briefly for home insurance, but binned them when the first renewal premium showed a whopping increase on the rate that had won my business.
The most recent pitch promised me the best travel insurance on the planet, with pre-existing conditions taken into account. Eileen and I have a couple of those, but they’re all historic, so I filled in an on-line form. It took them two seconds to reject my application. Given the market they target, a large chunk of that population must have medical issues on their CV, so why are they in the market at all? Beats me.
I have just spent three of my precious remaining hours watching an ITV series called The Guilty.
I never do book reviews and I am loth to rubbish anyone’s creative work, but I feel I must express a degree of impatience, having been lulled into wasting all that time. A third of the way through episode one, I reckoned I knew who the perp was and what had happened; it was that obvious. I was almost right, save for a ridiculous twist involving a character who was introduced belatedly to provide it. Also I am still trying to figure out what the lead detective’s private life had to do with the story. Okay,she may have empathised with the victim’s mother, but so what? As a friend of mine once memorably, and cryptically said, ‘What did that have to do with the cars going up the Mound?’
“She was a handsome woman of forty-five and would remain so for many years.”
J. B. Priestley
So East Lothian is not the only rural community to be plagued by the cycling Nazis.
A couple of months ago I contacted the brand spanking new Police Scotland, through its website message facility and asked for a statement of policy in respect of roads being blocked by organised gangs of men on bikes, dressed in condoms. I am still waiting for a reply. Looks like we’re on our own.
At the risk of upsetting those of an unshakeably blue persuasion, last night I watched Celtic put on a remarkably classy performance in Milan, where they were unlucky not to leave with a point. Even the Spanish commentator said so. The difference between the two sides was a late own goal, (they called it a deflection but it was more than that) and a free kick that may have been dodgy, since Balotelli had been play-acting all night.
We have a habit of rubbishing our own game at every opportunity, but last night we were done proud.
Another masterpiece by Scotland’s foremost journalist.
Further to ‘Here I go again’, the answer was around a dozen. However some may have been American, in which case they might take home with them my thanks to Dr Bose, for his excellent headphones.
Sometimes, methinks, we should be left with our memories, and our 1960s vinyl albums.
When a person, even an eccentric like Paolo di Canio, can be fined £8,000 for speaking the self-evident truth, the body that imposes the penalty needs to take a serious look at itself.
And so the Champions League proper is with us again. But this season it just won’t be the same.
Bound for Girona via Newcastle this afternoon. I wonder how many school age kids will be on the plane this time.