A PLAGUE ON ALL YOUR HOUSES

 

THE RISE OF THE MAVERICKS.

Donald Trump will be the Republican’s Presidential nominee. Bernie Sanders is giving Hilary Clinton a real fright in the race for the Democrat’s nomination. Jeremy Corbyn astonished the commentators with his victory last year in the Labour leadership contest. The Austrians have just chosen a radical green candidate for President over a far right alternative. The middle of the road Austrian parties were nowhere to be seen.

All this tells us that there is deep disillusionment with conventional politicians. People don’t believe they have the answers. Why is this? I think the underlying economic reason is that Europe and North America are mature economies now. The post war boom when we dominated the world is long gone. Children will no longer be richer than their parents because the easy economic gains are no longer available. The global economy means that developing countries are, rightly, taking a bigger share of the cake. They are building the ships, finishing textiles, producing the raw materials. We have to focus on sophisticated added value goods at the high end of technology and intellectual property.

Economies are subject to global forces. No individual politician can promise to resist. Their power is diminished but they keep on promising and disillusionment has set in. At the moment the party system in Britain remains intact but it is not fit for purpose. We need a four party system in England, not two. Conservative right, Conservative left, hard left and a centre left could end the frustration people feel at the moment.

More immediately the American political system is under strain. Donald Trump should really be running as an independent, the Republican Party may not survive his candidature. Sanders styles himself as a socialist. Perhaps America needs a Corbyn type party to offer a radical alternative to what many young American Democrats regard as the uninspiring position of Hilary Clinton.

Finally we must acknowledge that a contributor to the disillusionment is the internet and social media. It is right and welcome that there is a much wider discussion and scrutiny of politicians. It is also true that the commentary can be ill informed and destructive based on a belief that anyone in public office is on the make or self interested.

The current EU debate with its increasingly aggressive tone and overblown claims won’t be helping our increasingly fragile politicians.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BOMBING SYRIA?

Do you remember the huge debate over whether we should bomb Syria? The Prime Minister got his way. Reporters were dispatched to Cyprus to see the first planes fly out, then silence. Are we still bombing? How frequently and to what effect? The media caravan does move swiftly on.

DOMESTIC SEASON NOT “DONE AND DUSTED”.

The coverage of the Premier League really is disproportionate in our media. Division 1 and 2 is particularly badly covered. BBC Radio Five Live have been running a promo this weekend saying the domestic season is done and dusted. Well not for the Green Army it ain’t.

I support Plymouth Argyle who are off to Wembley on Monday for the Fourth (let’s call it what it is) Division Play Off Final. 40,000 members of the Green Army may be there with a sizeable contingent from AFC Wimbledon. How much coverage will we get in the national papers and on Radio Five Live?

Not much if the coverage of our semi final duel with Portsmouth is anything to go by. Over thirty thousand people watched the two legs between these old dockyard rivals, yet barely a mention on national radio and TV.

The nation will want The Wombles to continue their fairytale rise to play Milton Keynes (let’s call them what they are) in Div 3 (let’s call it what it is) next year, but I’m hoping for victory for the Green Army.

 

UNION CHALLENGE FOR NEW LABOUR LEADER.

 

You don’t get me, I’m part of the union.”

On Monday the government will introduce in parliament the biggest crack down on the trade unions in thirty years. Len McCluskey’s Unite union is up for the challenge. The General Secretary will spend the weekend at the Trades Union Congress testing support for his call to break the law to resist the Tories plans.

The issue will be an interesting test for the new Labour leader. To support or oppose particular strikes has been one of the most difficult problems for Labour leaders for decades. Barbara Castle crossed the unions in the 1960s, Jim Callaghan’s government was brought down by them in 1979, Neil Kinnock’s discomfort over Arthur Scargill’s miners strike in 1984/5 is the stuff of legend and Ed Miliband’s refusal to take sides became a joke on You Tube.

The reason why the party, created by the unions, has agonised over the issue of union power is because it has feared losing moderate voters. It is this equivocation that has dismayed the left, and particularly the young. During the leadership election they have surged back to Labour in the expectation of more crusading policies. Their argument is that if the party fights with conviction for working people, more will join, Middle England will be overwhelmed and a socialist Labour Party will sweep to power in 2020. The battle over the Trade Union bill will be a first test.

The measure will make unlawful a strike unless 50% of those being asked to strike, vote in the ballot. 40% of those asked to vote must support the strike in key public services. The strike mandate will only last four months Unlawful picketing will become a criminal, not civil, offence. Most controversial of all is the right being given to employers to hire agency staff to break the strike. The Labour Party’s finances are set to be hit with a further provision to require union members to positively agree to pay the political levy.

The number of working days lost to strike action in the 12 months to April was 704,000, a far cry from the 13 million a year in the 70s. However there have been a number of strikes on the London Underground and in schools causing major inconvenience to parents and commuters. This has been the trigger for ministers to act. What will New Old Labour do?

SOCCEREX CONFERENCE.

I attended the excellent global soccer business conference in Manchester this week and thought I would share with you a comment by a panellist. It came during a discussion about fans’ use of new media. Facebook and YouTube had come out of left field with nobody seeing what impact they would have It was noted that some football clubs had given up trying to stop fans taking mobile phone shots of matches and embraced the clips on their websites.

Then the prediction of the next big thing, fans resistance to being the falls guys in the war between Sky and BT for TV soccer rights. As was correctly observed the poor fan now has to pay two huge monthly fees to get full match coverage. Who could stop this? Well perhaps Apple will come to the fans rescue, wipe out BT and Sky and unify the package at a cheaper price. Just a thought.

 

FROM CAMERON TO MOYES, DO LEADERS MATTER?

 

 

 

 

I pose the question because of the sacking of David Moyes. An issue that has had at least the same amount of coverage as David Cameron’s fall will eventually attract. Even the staid Today programme on Radio 4 kept having items from Old Trafford awkwardly introduced by John Humphrys.

 

In football the personality of the manager is almost always crucial to success. They need to have a knowledge of the game and man management in equal measure. A media persona also helps. It didn’t always. Sir Alf Ramsey had as much charisma as Clement Attlee but both understated men had enormous success. The former led us to World Cup victory, the latter led Labour to its landslide triumph in 1945. But that was in the age before rolling news.

 

Now managers have to feed the hungry news beast. Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea boss has this off to a tee. But David Moyes looked haunted from the start. His excuses became repetitive. He looked overwhelmed.

So are United now going to join all the other clubs, bar Arsenal in a constant managerial Merry go round. The fans like this constant change. So says Alyson Rudd, a football columnist with The Times. Do they? Is it actually good for clubs to change their manager every three years are so? Is it good for business to have constant changes in leadership? Let’s remember we used to praise Manchester United for sticking with Sir Alex Ferguson even when the times were bad around 1990.

 

Sir Terry Leahy had fourteen years at the top of Tesco. He’s been gone three years now and last week’s figures weren’t so good. Is that because Leahy is not in charge or because the economics of superstores is changing?

 

Do critics of David Cameron’s leadership take into account that he has no majority and came to power in very difficult economic circumstances? Do critics of David Moyes take into account that he was handed a team past its sell by date and with the old boss still around the boardroom. There is also the inevitable cycle that afflicts football and business. No team or company can always be at the top.

 

The pressure to succeed takes its toll, the product goes out of fashion, and succession planning fails.

Sir Alex Ferguson will have some explaining to do at the Harvard Business School where is now a guest lecturer. Continuity in business and football management is hard. When United last screwed up their succession planning, it was nearly twenty years before Sir Alex came on the scene. For business and football, once you are knocked off the top, it can be a long way back. Liverpool fans know that.

 

We don’t just need to look in the Premiership. Sean Dyche has just taken Burnley back to the Premiership. He’s one to watch. Meanwhile at Leeds United the lesson that you can be a long tome away from glory is still being learnt. Just because you make one mistake with business leadership, doesn’t mean you can’t fail again and again and again. Good luck with Massimo Cellino, United.

 

 

50p TAX PROMISE PLAYING WELL IN WYTHENSHAWE

WYTHENSHAWE BY ELECTION

 

 

Business needs to get the message, ordinary people are angry.

 

I was at the meeting in London on Saturday when Ed Balls committed Labour to a 50p income tax rate for those earning over £150,000 a year. Before I could get the train dear old Digby Jones and Curry King Gulam Noon were spluttering about Labour lurching to the loony left.

 

Two days later RBS reveal the latest £3bn bill that we have to pick up for bankers disgraceful behaviour .

 

Now I know business and banking are different activities, but the continuing banking scandals are eroding people’s confidence in capitalism and certainly putting them in the mood to soak the rich.

 

What is so disturbing about the continuing banking scandal is that the mentality that led to the crash in 2008 has not fundamentally changed. Investigations are on going about the Libor scandal which continued way beyond 2008. In relation to RBS, 80% owned by us, they announced no bonuses this year BUT their chairman Sir Philip Hampton wants a shareholder vote on paying 200% of salary bonuses next year!

 

So it should be no surprise that Labour Leader Ed Miliband isn’t on the prawn cocktail circuit wooing business and he may have nudged a more reluctant Balls into making the 50p announcement early. Miliband sees the way the political wind is blowing and is keen to capture the fairness argument.

 

The first test of whether he’s right or not will come in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by election. Launching the campaign Labour had their Deputy Leader Harriet Harman having a game of indoor bowls at a lifestyle centre and risking headlines about missing the target. In the event the launch went reasonably smoothly for local man Mike Kane who is the party’s standard bearer.

 

FRUITCAKES AND FIBBERS.

 

The main point of interest will be the performance of UKIP. They’ve achieved second place in a string of recent northern by elections and will want to repeat the feat in Wythenshawe.

 

I’m told they are denying my claim that they opened nominations for the by election before the late MP Paul Goggins was dead.

 

Well I have seen an email from Party Director Lisa Duffy saying “Paul Goggins is seriously ill and there may be a potential for a by election, whilst we wish him well we need to plan for eventualities!”

 

People have a laugh with pint swigging Nigel Farage and find his anti establishment rhetoric refreshing. They should also bear in mind the party’s darker side and the fact that their policy of withdrawing from the European Union could wreck our economy.

 

Labour are clearly keeping an eye on UKIP. Their Wythenshawe Voice leaflet gives five reasons why they aren’t the answer, and at a Fabian conference I attended in London last weekend the point was repeatedly made that some working class Labour voters, as well as Tories, were attracted to UKIP’s policy on immigration.

FA CUP LOSING ITS SHINE?

 

I see the Chelsea boss wants to end replays in the FA Cup because of fixture congestion.

 

Excuse me. Teams like mine, Plymouth Argyle, don’t suffer from fixture congestion. As our ex boss Ian Holloway said once, that’s because we’re like a tea bag, not in the Cup very long.

 

Lower division clubs make some badly needed cash from replays and Premier League clubs with their budgets can afford big squads precisely to deal with lots of fixtures.

 

I yearn for the days when teams went to third and fourth replays. That would make yours eyes water Jose!

 

The FA must stand up for the minnows.