Keith Vaz singing Grease

17 Feb

Slipping under the media radar

17 Feb

A most interesting opening to yesterday’s blog post in UK Polling Report:

    “ComRes’s monthly online poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror is out and has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%.

    The changes from last month are bit complex. As regular readers will know, there has been a bit of a back and forth in ComRes’s methodology. For most of last year ComRes treated likelihood to vote for minor parties differently to how they did it for the main parties – for the big three they included people who said they were 5/10 or more likely to vote (weighted proportionally), for minor parties they only included those who said they were 10/10 certain to vote. In their December online poll they experimented with treating all parties the same on turnout, producing a substantial jump in UKIP support. In January they used their old method, which dropped UKIP back down by 4 points. Unfortunately this wasn’t flagged up in media reporting of the polls, giving the impression of UKIP increasing in December and then dropping back down in January after Cameron’s EU referendum pledge, when actually much of the movement was due to methodological reasons.

    Anyway, the back and forth seems to be behind us – ComRes have now shifted to treating all the parties the same when it comes to taking account of likelihood to vote…” [Emphasis my own]

Unfortunately for the Lib Dems the numbers remain worrying, even if they win the Eastleigh by-election, which by the way is looking increasingly likely!

And naturally, what would a British politics post be without the requisite clip from Yes, Prime Minister. This particular one should be titled The Perfect Balanced Sample and contains one of my favourite-ever Humphrey Appleby quotes: “What’s that got to do with it? Things don’t happen just because Prime Ministers are very keen on them! Neville Chamberlain was very keen on peace.” Enjoy and I hope you’re all having a good weekend.

2012: Vintage British tennis

14 Oct

After decades in the doldrums, British tennis has returned with a vengeance. And unlike previous purple patches, it’s a joint-effort on the part of both sexes. The success of Andy Murray (age 25), Heather Watson (20) and Laura Robson (18) bodes well for several years to come. That it took 76 years for the lad from Dunblane to emulate the last British male grand slam singles champion, and 24 years for the lass from Guernsey to emulate the last British female WTA tour title winner, is beyond comprehension. But finally the weight of history has been lifted and hopefully their success will usher in a potentially golden-age of British tennis in the Open/modern era. The three mentioned above have not been alone in their success. There was victory in one-half of the men’s doubles at Wimbledon and Liam Broady‘s path to the US Open final in the Junior competition, to go along with his success earlier in the year in the Junior doubles at the Australian Open. In a year of general British sporting success, it has been a treat to watch the tennis players coming to the party. Much will be expected of them next year, particularly Mr Murray!

House of Lords Reform

9 Jul

(HT Unlock Democracy)

Seven Years, Never Forgotten

7 Jul

James Adams, 32
Samantha Badham, 36
Lee Baisden, 34
Phil Beer, 22
Anna Brandt, 41
Michael Stanley Brewster, 52
Ciaran Cassidy, 22
Rachelle Lieng Siong Chung For Yuen, 27
Benedetta Ciaccia, 30
Elizabeth Daplyn, 26
Jonathan Downey, 34
Richard Ellery, 21
Anthony Fatayi-Williams, 26
David Foulkes, 22
Arthur Edlin Frederick, 60
Karolina Gluck, 29
Jamie Gordon, 30
Richard Gray, 41
Gamze Gunoral, 24
Lee Harris, 30
Giles Hart, 55
Marie Hartley, 34
Miriam Hyman, 31
Ojara Ikeagwu, 55
Shahara A Islam, 20
Neetu Jain, 37
Emily Rose Jenkins, 24
Adrian Johnson, 38
Helen Jones, 28
Susan Levy, 53
Sam Ly, 28
Shelley Mather, 26
Mike Matsushita, 37
James Mayes, 28
Anne Moffat, 48
Colin Morley, 52
Behnaz Mozakka, 48
Jennifer Nicholson, 24
Mihaela Otto, 46
Shyanuja Parathasangary, 30
Anat Rosenberg, 29
Philip Russell, 28
Atique Sharifi, 24
Ihab Slimane, 24
Christian Small, 28
Fiona Stevenson, 29
Monika Suchocka, 23
Carrie Taylor 24
Mala Trivedi, 51
Laura Susan Webb, 29
William Wise, 54
Gladys Wundowa, 50

Adios Mark Ramprakash!

6 Jul

A fan shaking hands with Mark Ramprakash on the day he went on to score his 98th first-class century against Lancashire. [Taken 16 Apr 2008]

He’s one of the few English cricketers I remember dad telling me about as a boy. As a Briton with Asian heritage he always intrigued me, not least for the fact that both parts of his surname feature in my own. But despite a glittering twenty-five year career, Mark Ramprakash was unable to fulfil his prodigious talent on the sport’s biggest stage, Test cricket. His average of 27.32 in 52 Tests (with just two hundreds) pales in comparison with his first-class record of 35,659 runs at an average of 53.14 (with 114 first-class hundreds), along with 13,273 runs in one-day cricket. It is a distinct possibility that he will remain the last cricketer to ever score a hundred first-class centuries, a landmark he reached during the 2008 County Championship. I was fortunate enough to watch him in action earlier that season when he notched his 98th first-class century at The Oval in a rain-affected match against Lancashire. He was always one of the more stylish English batsman of his generation and many will rue the fact that he will perhaps be remembered not so much for his run-accumulation, but for his success in a reality dance competition in 2006. Thanks Ramps for the entertainment and I wish him all the best in the future. Along with Graeme Hick’s retirement four years ago, this truly is the end of English cricket’s 1980s era.

England’s flawed technician (David Lloyd, Cricinfo)
A champion of elegance in helmet and pads (Jim White, The Telegraph)

Asians on Desert Island Discs

5 Jul

You can’t filter the DIDA results by ethnicity so here’s an up-to-date chronological list of all the programme’s South Asian castaways. Surprisingly there have only been twenty so far, so I’ve added two “honorary” South Asians.

Ravi Shankar*

V.S. Naipaul
Zubin Mehta
Gayatri Devi
Ved Mehta
Madhur Jaffrey
Ben Kingsley
Ismail Merchant
Salman Rushdie

Imran Khan
Hanif Kureishi
Saeed Jaffrey

Meera Syal
Gulam Noon
Karan Bilimoria
Satish Kumar
Tariq Ali
Sanjeev Bhaskar
Shami Chakrabarti

Vikram Seth

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala [24 Jan 1999]
Mark Tully [15 Jun 2003]

(* Unfortunately there is no audio available for this episode but you can still see his choices of music, book and luxury.)