Gil Scott-Heron

This T shirt will not give your mouth sex appeal

When I was at university ten years ago I often saw T shirts with a picture of Gil Scott-Heron, who died last Friday aged 62, and a slogan ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. Initially I had no idea what it meant so one day I said to a student I saw wearing one “Cool T shirt. Who’s the guy?”

“Er…not really sure” came the reply.

Indeed, that was generally the reply. I quickly realised that for every twenty people buying T shirts that featured a cool guy with shades, afro and beard saying ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, there was, perhaps, only one person who had actually listened to the record on which he said it.

Gil Scott-Heron was a one hit wonder like Hanson or Brian and Michael except more people have actually listened to ‘MMMBop’ and ‘Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs’ than have ever actually heard ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. You wouldn’t know this from the fawning coverage given by the media; The Guardian referred to Scott-Heron’s “prodigious output” despite mentioning only one song other than TRWNBT and in an interview on Channel 4 News Krishnan Guru Murthy and Jazzie B of Soul II Soul failed to mention any song apart from TRWNBT. Is this the sort of coverage Joe Dolce can look forward to?

TRWNBT isn’t a great song. Its a Lawrence Ferlighetti poem set to jazz music, exactly the sort of thing first done by, well, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. And as even Scott-Heron admitted, it certainly wasn’t the progenitor of rap music. A Jew from northern Minnesota could lay greater claim to that title and he was, possibly, as inspired to write ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ by Chuck Berry’s ‘Too Much Monkey Business’ as by Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’.

You don’t need a great record to generate a great slogan. Lot’s of people will have heard of ‘A Pessimist is Never Disappointed’ by theaudience and ‘There’s a Guy Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’ by Kirsty MacColl without being able to hum them. But ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ isn’t even a good slogan. Consider the wall to wall coverage given by 24 hour news channels to the events in the Middle East lately, look at the blanket coverage of the recent tuition fee protests/riots, sometimes you feel as though there is nothing but the revolution on tele.

Whenever someone mentions Gil Scott-Heron they are really saying ‘I am cooler than you’. I listen to colliery band music so if they say it to me they are probably right. Perhaps those T shirt wearers simply join the Che Guevara T shirt wearers and Alanis Morisette in their blindness to irony, in this case of buying a T shirt bearing a slogan taken from a song about the dehumanizing evils of mass consumerism. And at least they have this going for them; Gil Scott-Heron was not the bastard Che Guevara was. But if I’m asked to explain why a guy with one unoriginal hit to his name a few decades ago gets such intensive media coverage I’d have to answer “Er…not really sure”

S**t my economist says #6

The credit crunch has a thousand fathers

It’s amazing how much foresight economist have. With hindsight. Browsing in the economics section in Waterstones the other day I picked up a book whose blurb informed me that the author “was one of the few economists who warned of the global financial crisis before it hit”. It reminded me of the blurb on another book whose author predicted “the recent crisis well in advance of anyone else” or yet another, the author of which “predicted the slump years ago”. In fact it turns out that the credit crunch was so widely predicted among academic economists you almost long to meet the economist who didn’t predict the credit crunch. He must be out there.

Oh yes, I forgot, Ben Bernanke is now Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The Laffer Curve and the limits of the state

Do you come here often?

I’m mortified to have to pay 50%!” So said the phenomenally successful singer Adele in an interview with Q magazine. And why shouldn’t she be? Isn’t it unfair that a person can perform labour for which they get less of the reward than someone else who didn’t perform it? The right to work as you wish and dispose of the fruits of your labour as you wish are essential rights that differentiate free men and women from slaves. Agreeing with Adele seems a moral slam dunk.

Not if you write for or read the Guardian. They took Adele to task for criticising government spending on transport and schools elsewhere in her interview, remarks which are easily dealt with. But their rebuttal of Adele’s complaint about the 50% tax rate was bizarre; the Guardian simply said “The Beatles had to pay 95%”

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Adele vs the left

Iron Lady

I’m not a massive fan of Adele’s version of ‘Make You Feel My Love’. As a Bob Dylan fan I might be biased towards his original but even so I’m a little put off hers by the needless, showy warbling that has infected female soul vocals since Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

That said I like Adele. She has become as phenomenally successful as she has, unlike most of the anonymous model/singer/presenters you see on TV these days, based purely on her considerable talent.

To her talent you can now add guts. The music business and art industry more generally has long been full of left wingers. Considering that, among these left wingers, anyone who doesn’t think that taxes should be ramped up indefinitely to continue paying for a massive and horrendously inefficient government sector is considered the worst kind of obscene fascist (taste and perspective are rarely found on that end of the political spectrum), it takes guts to come out as one of the majority of Brits who support fiscal sanity.

That is what Adele has just done. Predictably, the dogs were soon on her. Her twitter feed featured someone called plasmatron saying “That quote from Adele moaning about her tax bill and slagging off public schools has really p***ed me off” and an obviously unpleasant character called nicklibertine tweeting “Got my paycheque today. Looking at the amount I take home after tax and national insurance is just depressing. F**k you, Adele”

Just as predictably, where the Dave Sparts huddled round the keyboard brazier of the twittersphere led the Guardian soon followed. An anonymous blogger at the Guardian, an increasingly desperate and hypocritical rag which squeals about tax avoidance while being a notable culprit, set about Fisking Adele’s remarks.

“Most state schools are shit” Adele claimed. Not true, said the Guardian, pointing out that “according to the most recent Ofsted report for the UK, ‘Just over two thirds of schools at their most recent inspection were providing a good or better education for their pupils. Pupils’ behaviour was good or outstanding in 86% of schools'”

Except that’s not the full picture. The Programme for International Student Assessment compares students from a range of countries. In 2000 the UK ranked 7th in reading, 8th in maths and 4th in science. By 2008 we had slumped to 17th in reading, 24th in maths and 14th in science.

“Trains are always late” Adele charges, to which the Guardian replies “What does that matter when you don’t use them? And they’re not anyway”

The first point is ridiculous. Adele pays alot more money to the government than most people, several times more than she gets no doubt, and is as entitled to an opinion on it as anyone else.

As for the second point, would this be the same Guardian that claimed that “Train delays cost passengers £1bn“? Seems to be.

“I use the NHS” Adele continues, to which the Guardian response is “Keep paying your taxes then or it’ll be gone”. This is witless. Over the last ten years, according to a House of Commons report, spending on the NHS increased from £60 billion per year to £102 billion. And what did this vast infusion of cash actually achieve? Productivity actually declined.

So the Guardian is wrong and Adele is right. Lots of the money she pays in tax towards the NHS is wasted, she has every right to point this out and suggesting that the NHS will vanish if this insane spending continues is hysterical garbage.

The Guardian rounds off by criticising Adele’s remark that “When I got my tax bill in, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire”. Well, I’m sure we could all agree with that. But it goes on to say “it’s still upsetting to hear this musician I admire seems as greedy as the most moat-friendly, port-stained Tory grandee”

Is it? The economy and how to deal with our incredible deficit is the central question in British politics today. Do we ignore the deficit and hope it goes away as Labour would propose? Do we deal with it with all taxes and no spending cuts, raising the basic rate of income tax to 45p as the trade unions would like?

The people who benefit from the governments torrent of fiscal largesse have been very vocal in trying to protect themselves and the Guardian has refused to condemn them for behaviour every bit as self interested as Adele’s. This is just traditional left wing hypocrisy. But a question has to be asked; why is it that in the debate about our nation’s finances we are only allowed to hear from the people who receive the money and not the people who pay it?

Sidney Lumet

Juror number 8, Joe Roberts, Frank Johnson, Frank Serpico and Sonny Wortzik were very different men. Number 8 was a middle class architect. Sergeant Major Roberts was a soldier. Frank Johnson and Frank Serpico were detectives. Sonny Wortzik was a bank robber. But in the hands of director Sidney Lumet, who died last month, all these men would have recognised each other’s dilemmas.

In Lumet’s first film ‘12 Angry Men’ (1957) number 8, played by Henry Fonda, retires on a sweltering summer’s day in New York to deliberate over the murder of a man by his teenage son. It’s a seemingly open and shut case; the boy has a criminal record and there are witnesses to the murder identifying him. A vote is held and the hands go up for guilty; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 but not 8.

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Morrissey is still playing the same old tunes

A level of ‘constructive’ debate

There was an old guy who stood at the top of Carnaby Street, outside The Shakespeare’s Head, and did tricks. According to his cardboard sign his name was Conker Mustard. He didn’t smell so good and he couldn’t talk so well, but he tap danced to inappropriate music like ‘The Heat Is On’. In the days before the smoking ban, when the pavements outside pubs were less crowded than now, I would sit and watch Conker Mustard do his thing for hours.

But as much as Conker Mustard entertained me it never crossed my mind to seek his advice on the political matters of the day. My loss perhaps. Maybe, lurking beneath that mop of unwashed hair, was brain that combined the philosophical depth of a Mazzini with the breadth of vision of a Kissinger? Maybe entertainers can offer profound political insight?

Not if Morrissey is anything to go by. The front man with seminal 80’s indie group The Smiths, he has struggled to maintain his former fame. He has lately taken to puffing his profile by saying silly things about politics like this letter to noted political periodical ‘Hot Press’ released today.

Morrissey responds to the Queen’s historic visit to the Irish Republic. The first monarch to visit the only country that shares a land border with the UK since George V, several decades of rebellion, war, civil war, terrorism, bad feeling and death separate the two.

He opens his letter with the observation that “The message from the Queen will be the same as ever: who we are born to is more important than what we achieve in life”. I would actually be pretty surprised if the Queen did stand up and say this in Ireland, the general belief among the British and Irish, the majority of whom support it, seems to be that the message of the visit is that ‘We’re all friends now’, helped, no doubt, by a British loan to cash strapped Ireland of £7 billion. Maybe Morrissey knows better. Or maybe he’s just been playing his anti Monarchy greatest hits for so long he can’t learn a new tune?

Indeed, Morrissey, such a popular icon in the 1980’s, is soon scampering back there, like one of those tiresome hippies trying to relive the 60’s. Morrissey writes

“It should be remembered by the Irish people that as recently as the turn of the 1980s the Queen supported Margaret Thatcher by not dismissing Thatcher as she allowed hunger strikers to die at the Maze Prison…”

This is quite bizarre. Morrissey is a well known Republican (in the British as well as the Irish sense) and as recently as last month he was demanding that the Royal Family be abolished. Now, however, it appears that Morrissey wants the Queen to go round dismissing democratically elected leaders.

He goes on to say

“The Queen also has the power to give back the six counties to the Irish people, allowing Ireland to be a nation once again”

Firstly Morrissey is plain wrong, the Queen does not have that power. But again, his thinking is hilariously muddled. Not only does Morrissey’s new found fondness for absolute Crown authority cover deposing Prime Ministers, but he also wants the Queen to hand over 1.7 million of her subjects to a foreign government without them having any say in the matter at all. This contradiction to his usual utterances is so glaring that you can only conclude that Morrissey is particularly stupid not to realise the fact.

The more you read the more the evidence that Morrissey isn’t very bright piles up. He brands the Queen’s decision not to hand Ulster over to the Republic “Fascism in full flow”. In fairness, Morrissey is only the latest in a very long line of people to use the F word without having a clue what it means. But, really, what could be more fascistic than an unelected head of state simply telling 1.7 million people that as of tomorrow they will be living in another country, under another government, whether they like it or not?

Let’s cut Morrissey some slack; perhaps he isn’t stupid as much as ignorant. After all, he asks us to “Name one other European country that is controlled by its neighbour”. Well, there’s northern Cyprus. The South Tyrol. The Basque Country. East Prussia. Lombardy. Catalonia. Indeed, ask a supporter of Plaid Cymru or the Scottish National Party and you can add Wales and Scotland to that list. Quite a few in the Republic of Ireland, where fiscal policy is being dictated by the European Union, would add themselves to it.

Morrissey simply isn’t even aware of any of this. But then again, when you’re reading from 30 year old sheet music you won’t be doing much improvisation.

Morrissey isn’t totally ignorant of affairs beyond the end of his nose. He casts his rhetorical net to the Middle East saying “For a broad historical view of what the Queen is and how she ‘rules’, examine Gaddafi or Mubarak, and see if you can spot any difference”

One difference is that the Queen doesn’t ‘rule’, Parliament does although here Morrissey is contradicting what he wrote just a couple of paragraphs ago when he wanted the Queen to ditch elected leaders and tell large chunks of the UK population which country they should be living in.

And another difference; Iman Al-Obeidi was arrested by Gaddafi’s security forces and repeatedly gang raped while in custody. When she reported this to the western media she was arrested again. Consider the genuine horror that woman went through and now see if your stomach doesn’t turn when Morrissey, millionaire rock star, tries to tell you we have it as bad over here.

Morrissey is stupid. Morrissey is ignorant. Morrissey is inconsistent and hypocritical. But he’s a pretty good musician. As with smelly old Conker Mustard, I’ll happily tap my foot along but if I want political insight, I’ll look elsewhere.

Justice of a kind

The Mirror gets it right for once

I rarely write anything about football on this blog. Anything I feel or think I can get out of my system with 90 minutes of shouting and screaming during the match. But today is an exception. May 15th, yesterday, saw justice of sorts finally done when West Ham United were relegated losing the Premier League place they stole off my team, Sheffield United, four years ago.

I wrote about the Tevez Affair at some length back then but a brief recap might be in order. Just prior to the start of the 2006 – 2007 season West Ham United stunned the football world by signing Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, two global superstars who’s profile, to put it politely, was somewhat higher than that of the usual Upton Park recruit. At the time people said there must be something rather fishy about it all.

The fishy stench reached the offices of the Premier League, not generally a place where such pongs elicit much of a reaction. On September 1st 2006 Jane Purdon, Premier League company secretary, asked West Ham’s legal and commercial director Scott Duxbury “if the club had entered into any arrangements with any third parties. Ms Purdon says that his answer was an unequivocal ‘no’. Mr Duxbury says that he essentially ducked that question”. The following week Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore sought clarification on the deals from Paul Aldridge, West Ham’s chief executive officer. “He (Scudamore) wanted to know how the clubs had got these players so cheaply and whether or not there was any documentation of any sort in respect of these players which the FAPL had not seen. He received a categorical assurance that there was no such documentation…

Except there was. Premier League Rule U18 states that “No club shall enter into a contract which enables any other party to that contract to acquire the ability materially to influence its policies or the performance of its team”. However, under clause 2 of the contract signed between West Ham, Tevez and Mascherano, MSI Group Limited (MSI) and Just Sports Inc (their management) which brought the highly rated Argentines to Upton Park, “Tevez fully acknowledged that the companies had the sole, exclusive and unilateral right, upon serving written notice to the club during the transfer window, to terminate his contract with West Ham upon payment to the club of £2 million

At the first hearing into what would become known as the ‘Tevez Affair’ it emerged that when, prior to signing the contract, Duxbury asked Purdon whether “that arrangement (namely the third party clauses referred to above) could be in the contracts between the club and the players” she replied “that such an arrangement would not be acceptable, due to Rule 18”. Duxbury disagreed, saying “there was no reference at all to that Rule”.

If Duxbury is telling the truth and Rule U18 wasn’t discussed with Purdon then it seems odd that he should then go and discuss the matter with Aldridge but that is exactly what he went and did. Aldridge “told him he would place the fact of the third party ownership into what he called side agreements, which he said he would not disclose to the FAPL (Premier League)”. The world cup winning players were signed in deals which stunk like Billingsgate on an August afternoon.

The affair came to light in January 2007 when Mascherano moved to Liverpool. The Premier League ordered a hearing and West Ham denied all charges. “Even having submitted (the full contracts) West Ham United continued to argue that these agreements did not influence its policies or performance of the team and therefore were not in breach of Rule U18” the Premier League subsequently said. Crucially, West Ham’s denial delayed the hearing until April 27th 2007, the very eve of the end of the season.

On April 26th 2007 West Ham’s owners, a bunch of soon to be bankrupt Icelanders led by the extra terrestrial Eggert Magnusson, decided that they were guilty after all. Thus it was that when the hearing convened on the 27th it found West Ham United guilty of “an obvious and deliberate breach of the Rules”, “a grave breach of trust as to the FAPL and its constituent members” and that “the club has been responsible for dishonesty and deceit”.

What we believe to have occurred here”, the Premier League’s damming verdict went on, “is that Messrs Brown, Aldridge and Duxbury were anxious to complete the registration of these players by the deadline of 31st August. They knew that the only means by which they could acquire them would be by entering into the third party contracts. Equally, they were aware that the FAPL, at the very least, may not – and in all probability would not – have approved of such contracts. They determined to keep their existence from the FAPL” Desperate to secure these players, the verdict went on, “an officer of the club, its chief executive officer (Duxbury), told Mr Scudamore a direct lie, namely there was no documentation of whatever kind in respect of these players which the FAPL had not seen

To general amazement however, West Ham not docked points. Instead they were fined £5.5 million, a world record, but only about 10% of what they could expect to receive if they stayed in the Premier League.

And it was by no means certain that West Ham would stay up. Even with their star Argentines West Ham were having a dismal season and, at the time of the hearing, were second from bottom of the table on 32 points, 3 points behind fourth bottom Sheffield United.

Sheffield United were enjoying their first season back in the top flight since 1994. The Blades had been most people’s favourites to go straight back down with a team featuring a mix of the young (Phil Jagielka, Stephen Quinn), the old (Keith Gillespie, Chris Lucketti), the journeymen (Jon Stead, Adi Akinbiyi) and the exotic (Luton Shelton, Christian Nade). Yet somehow Manager Neil Warnock, against all the odds, had fashioned this cheaply assembled rag bag into a team with a fighting chance of staying up, a team which had earned creditable draws against Liverpool and Aston Villa, wins against Arsenal and Tottenham and dished out a 3-0 spanking to West Ham.

Yet, with so much at stake, the Tevez Affair was about to take a bizarre, dramatic and grubby twist.

The day after the hearing West Ham were due to face fellow relegation strugglers Wigan Athletic. Tevez had recently hit form scoring four goals in the previous seven games and West Ham were desperate for him to play against Wigan and in the final two games of the season. Curiously, given that they had found the deal which brought him to east London riddled with “dishonesty and deceit”, the Premier League were willing to let him.

All West Ham had to do was tear up the offending clauses in the contract for which they were given a deadline of noon on April 28th, three hours before kick off at Wigan. As the Premier League was subsequently forced to reveal

Prior to the deadline set of noon 28 April, the Premier League Board received the following documents:

i) A letter from West Ham United sent to Carlos Tevez, MSI and JSI terminating the private agreement between them dated 30 August 2006 and notifying those parties that the private agreement shall cease to have any further force or effect.
ii) A letter from the legal representatives of MSI and JSI acknowledging receipt (my italics) of the above letter
iii) A letter confirming that the above letter had been served on Carlos Tevez personally

On the basis of this the Premier League concluded that West Ham had “acted in a manner that is consistent with them having terminated the offensive third-party agreement”. That afternoon Carlos Tevez set up two of West Ham’s goals in a 3-0 victory. The next week he scored twice as West Ham won 3-1 against Bolton. And on the final day of the season he scored the only goal of the game to give West Ham a win away at Old Trafford. Honest Sheffield United, who had been struggling since top scorer Rob Hulse broke his leg at Stamford Bridge on St Patrick’s Day, were relegated.

The aroma of fish was hanging heavily over Upton Park once more. It subsequently emerged that in response to West Ham’s termination of the alleged clauses Joorabchian had simply replied that “all my clients rights remain fully and expressly reserved”. He said West Ham had “unilaterally terminated the agreement and I have left it in the hands of my lawyer”. Furthermore, when West Ham tried to hand a letter to Carlos Tevez informing him of the termination of the agreement he “had declined to countersign the termination letter, and was not even prepared to do so in order to acknowledge that he had received it”.

It might seem strange that the Premier League was willing to accept the word of West Ham United, a club it had just found guilty of “dishonesty and deceit”, that these contract clauses had, indeed, been terminated. Indeed, it began to look stranger by the day as everyone involved, West Ham, Tevez, and his agent Kia Joorabchian, carried on acting as if they still existed.

It’s worth remembering again the wording of Rule U18, one of the two rules West Ham were found guilty of breaking; “No club shall enter into a contract which enables any other party to that contract to acquire the ability materially to influence its policies or the performance of its team”

The issue had always been that, under the original contract, Joorabchian had retained the right to withdraw Tevez from Upton Park and send him somewhere else. As the hearing on April 27th stated “The third party may be able to determine when and to whom the player may be transferred, which may not coincide with the wishes and interests of the club for whom the player is playing…”. Dan Johnson, a spokesman for the Premier League, said “The only problem we had with the deal was the existence of a clause in the agreement which would allow Joorabchian to sell the players to another club at any time”. Carlos Tevez had been allowed to play on in the final three games of the season on the explicit understanding that this could not happen.

The reek of mouldy sea food wafted up the M1 to Bramall Lane. As Tevez continued to be hawked around Europe’s top clubs, including Chelsea and Real Madrid despite protestations from Upton Park that he would remain a Hammer, more and more people began to wonder if the offending clauses, the termination of which had enabled Tevez to play on and score the goals that kept West Ham up, had actually been terminated at all. Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe called for a tribunal to look into the matter. Even though the Premier League admitted he had every right to do so, they still took the extraordinary step of pronouncing that the Blades were “wasting their time and money”.

The remit of the tribunal, announced on May 23rd 2007 and commencing on June 18th 2007, was “Sheffield United are asking the arbitral panel to determine two matters. The first is whether the decision by the independent disciplinary commission on April 27th to fine West Ham, rather than dock points, was legally flawed such as to require the issue to be determined afresh by a disciplinary commission at some point in the future. The second is whether the Premier League acted unlawfully by not de-registering Tevez. Fulham are seeking similar relief”.

It should be noted here that contrary to what many West Ham fans came to believe, this was not Sheffield United having a go at overturning the findings of the April hearing; that had been convened by the Premier League, not Sheffield United, and had already branded West Ham as guilty of “dishonesty and deceit”. The tribunal was looking into subsequent events at Upton Park and the Premier League.

The tribunal reported on July 3rd. It announced “SUFC have now been relegated. They have done nothing wrong to merit this outcome. WHU on the other hand were found by the Disciplinary Commission to have been deliberately deceitful and yet they remain in the FAPL”. It went on to say “We would go as far as to say that this tribunal would in all probability have reached a different conclusion and deducted points from WHU”. Nevertheless, it felt it could not overturn the verdict of the April hearing.

As for the question of whether the offending contract clauses had, in fact, been cancelled, the tribunal found that “It is obvious that the possibility of the third parties’ ability materially to influence was not entirely excluded. Indeed it may still exist” and that “the arrangement may not have been legally watertight”. Yet, once again, it found against Sheffield United.

There, it seemed, the matter lay. Sheffield United were back in the Championship, West Ham were in the Premiership having been fined 10% of their winnings, and Carlos Tevez was a West Ham player and would remain one as long as West Ham wanted because the clauses granting third party influence had been cancelled.

But just two days after the tribunal delivered its verdict it was reported that Carlos Tevez would be moving to Manchester United for £20 million. Eggert Magnusson was adamant, claiming that “Carlos Tevez is a registered West Ham player, contracted to the club until June 2010. There is no agreement with West Ham for Carlos Tevez to leave the club and we expect him to return in time for next season’s preparations”. Kia Joorabchian was having none of it. He issued a High Court writ against West Ham stating “The Companies seek the court’s intervention to compel West Ham to release the registration of Carlos Tevez in accordance with contracts entered into between the parties. We are asking the court to intervene so that Tevez can be registered to play with Manchester United as soon as possible”.

Mysteriously, when faced with this threat West Ham folded. Despite the Premier League stating that “The only problem we had with the deal was the existence of a clause in the agreement which would allow Joorabchian to sell the players to another club at any time” and that, on April 28th, “West Ham chose to terminate the third-party agreement with Joorabchian. They presented the Premier League with written evidence of the new arrangement”, West Ham United suddenly decided to release Carlos Tevez from his contract in return for a derisory payment of £2 million from MSI.

Contrary to the assurances of West Ham United and the Premier League, it seemed as though third party influence was alive and well. West Ham had been caught lying again.

This was the justification for Sheffield United to launch a bid for financial compensation. In this new inquiry into whether Carlos Tevez was, indeed, eligible to play in the final games when he scored the goals that kept West Ham up, Graham Shear, Joorabchian’s lawyer, was asked if, while loudly proclaiming that the third party clauses were cancelled, Duxbury had, privately, been telling Joorabchian’s people that they weren’t. Shear replied “Broadly, yes. West Ham were desperate to ensure Tevez played for the club in the critical last few games of the season. Whilst having no choice but to adhere to the Premier League’s requirements, West Ham wanted to do everything possible to attempt to placate the rights owners” For his part Duxbury was shameless; “I saw it as my job to make sure Tevez played and helped the club in the fight against relegation, even though it was clear he was very unhappy with the agreement being terminated. I made it clear to Tevez’s advisors that if Carlos stayed and helped us to the end of the season then, yes, I would not stand in his way if he wanted to leave for another club

Lord Griffith concluded that “If the Premier League had known what Mr Duxbury was saying to Mr Joorabchian’s solicitor following the commission decision, we are confident the Premier League would have suspended Mr Tevez’s registration as a West Ham player”. In short, West Ham had lied to get Tevez in the first place and lied again to keep him for the final games when he kept them up. It was too late to restore Sheffield United to their place in the Premier League but they were rewarded with compensation of a staggering £25 million.

My club has wasted that money and much more besides. We have made bad decision after bad decision since relegation on that rainy afternoon against Wigan in 2007. All we were left with at the end of the day was vindication, knowing we were right and had been seen to be right. But that had been little comfort when you got home from a draw away at Colchester, turned on the TV, and saw West Ham playing at Arsenal or Liverpool. We may not have got our spot back, but the squatters have been evicted.

S**t my economist says #5

When is a debt limit not a debt limit?

The United States has a government debt limit of $14.3 trillion. This limit is there for the very good reason that rocketing debt causes economic crises.

So it is rather strange to hear President Obama warn that an economic crisis will ensue if the Republicans in Congress do no allow him to keep borrowing and adding to the national debt. It’s especially strange given that the rating agencies are now starting to worry about the ballooning of American government debt, previously regarded as the safest investment in town.

Either way, there seems very little point in a spending limit that doesn’t limit spending.

Europe’s Bailout Boogie – the new mood music of the EU

Tapped out

This weekend music lovers (sic) from around Europe will gather in Dusseldorf for this years Eurovision Song Contest in a carnival of camaraderie and flag waving. However, such displays are getting rarer around the European Union.

From the frozen north, where the anti bailout True Finns party made massive gains in April’s election, to the sweltering south, where this week saw protests against spending cuts erupt into violence again, the political and social costs of holding the euro together are spiralling as rapidly as the economic costs.

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A tale of two Britains

He should have helped himself to forty large

Ian Faletto is the long serving and much loved station master at Lymington in Hampshire. According to regular station users Mr Faletto “spent thousands of pounds of his own money buying flowers, magazines and sweets to make the station more welcoming, while also putting in thousands of hours of unpaid overtime to maintain his own rigorous standards of cleanliness”

Now Mr Faletto has been sacked. He saw a Tesco shopping trolley lying on the tracks and, fearing a derailment, he went and removed it. In the sort of story which left wingers always tell you the Daily Mail makes up, this was a breach of Health and Safety regulations and cost him his job.

David Laws is a Liberal Democrat MP. A year ago he was a vastly impressive Chief Secretary to the Treasury until he was forced to resign amid allegations of serious diddling of his expenses. This week he was found guilty. He had, it turns out, claimed £40,000 in expenses he wasn’t entitled to, his motivation being, apparently, to conceal his homosexuality.

The Right Honourable David Laws MP has been suspended from the Commons for seven days.

Compare the fates of Laws and Mr Faletto. Laws, suspended for falsely claiming tens of thousands of pounds, Faletto sacked for shifting a shopping trolley that posed a danger to the passengers in his care. Is it any wonder our politicians are so disconnected from everyday life, a life where you can be sacked for doing your job because some overzealous jobsworth says you broke some stupid rule? Is it any wonder they consider themselves a class apart? Is it any wonder they consider themselves above the law. Compare the fates of Laws and Mr Faletto; they are.