Good evening, and welcome to Sportsnight. Tonight’s action comes from the Parc des Princes, Paris, France and the 1981 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

As Liverpool and Real Madrid prepare meet in the Champions League tonight, Liverpool go into the game as huge underdogs. Real Madrid are currently the Champions League holders, and are armed with a new generation of galacticos such as Gareth Bale, Christino Ronaldo and James Rodríguez. Liverpool are currently emerging from a period of slumber as sleeping giants.

Back in 1981, Liverpool FC were not just the Kings of the Kop, but of European football. They were appearing in their third European Cup final, after two appearances in 1977 and 1978. They had successfully blended a brutally effective mixture of flair and aggression and featured some of the finest players ever to play domestic football in England – featuring the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness, Phil Neal, Ray Clemance, Alan Kennedy and Phil Thompson.

The ethos of “the boot room” was an unwritten constitution at Anfield. Managers were seemlessly replaced over time, and new players fitted in like a glove. The transition of Kevin Keegan to Kenny Dalglish is probably the finest ever example in English football of one superstar being replaced by an even better player.

The 1981 European Cup Final was largely a turgid affair – with Liverpool winning 1–0 and claiming their third European Cup, the first British club to do so. Liverpool’s victory meant that Bob Paisley became the first manager to win the European Cup three times – with a fourth European Cup triumph to follow for Liverpool in 1984.

How different it was back in 1981. What is telling about the recollections of the 1-0 win in Paris is that in those days of yore, Madrid were considered the underdogs trying to re-establish their top status against an all-conquering Liverpool. Back then, Liverpool stood on top of the mountain of European club football like a bunch of curly permed, moustachioed, Hitachi sponsored colossuses.

Times have changed. The status of Real Madrid and Liverpool is built on European Cup history. But, just as in 1981 they meet with one side glancing enviously at the other, asking itself how such a daunting gap can be closed. But, in 2014, the club glancing enviously at the other club has seen a role reversal.

{ 2 comments }

The Debates Debate

by George_East on October 22, 2014

leadership debatesLast week the broadcasters collectively put together a proposal for leader debates for next May’s general election.   The proposal is for three debates.  The first is to involve David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage.  The second a debate (along the lines of those in 2010) between Cameron, Miliband and Clegg and finally a head to head debate between the two potential Prime Ministers, David Cameron and Ed Miliband

With the exception of UKIP, this proposal appears to have pretty much upset everyone, though it is important to understand what the objections that have been put forward are, in each case, really about.   It is important to remember that unless the main party leaders agree there will be no debates.

Conservatives: David Cameron has raised the question (which I discuss further below) as to why on earth UKIP are being included, when the Greens (who have the same number of MPs, ie 1) are not being included.   The Tory strategy is so far as possible to scupper the debates taking place at all without looking  like they are running scared.  The calculation is that the incumbent usually has the most to lose in debates and that the expectations of Ed Miliband are so low that almost anything he does will be seen as exceeding those expectations.  If the debates are to go ahead then the last thing they want is for UKIP to be involved – the greatest risk to David Cameron remains leakage of votes to the Kippers and those who have already leaked not coming back, and Farage’s presence as an equal makes this a lot more likely.   This is what the exclusion of the Greens complaint is really about – preventing the debates from taking place or, if that fails, preventing Nigel Farage from being included.

Labour: Similar to David Cameron, the last thing that Ed Miliband wants is for the Greens to be part of the debates.  So far they are not, but the logic of their inclusion is difficult to resist (particularly as some polls are now putting them above the Lib Dems).  The Greens have real potential to squeeze the middle class and student Labour vote, in the same way as the Lib Dems did in 2005 and 2010.  The Greens (in Caroline Lucas) have a much admired (if under seen) MP (even if she is not the party’s leader) and have some clear principled policies (renationalisation of rail, end to austerity etc) which many have urged Miliband to adopt and which, in the light of Labour’s apparent minimalistic policy offer, are likely to prove to be attractive to many (including some of the allthatsleft team).  Equally Ed Miliband is not terrifically keen on Farage being part of the debates, partly because it makes the Greens’ case for inclusion so much stronger and party because UKIP have the potential to eat into Labour’s traditional working class support through their position on immigration.     Unlike, David Cameron, Ed Miliband wants the debates to go ahead but Labour’s ideal is a re-run of 2010, with Labour the only alternative to the government on display.

Lib Dems:  The Lib Dems are the least happy of all.  Nick Clegg feels that as a party of government he deserves equal status with Cameron and Miliband and is therefore deeply unhappy about being excluded from the critical head to head debate.  Of course, this objection (when compared to that of the Greens) is actually pretty weak.  The idea of a debate between the realistic contenders for the office of Prime Minister has the merit of logic on its side and, on any view, Nick Clegg is not a realistic Prime Ministerial contender.  As the polls stand the Lib Dems may be lucky to end up 4th in the popular vote next May.   In many way then they should be glad that the proposal only excludes them from one of the three debates and still envisages one three way 2010-style debate.   Having said that the Lib Dems are one of the parties who have indicated that they will seek legal review of the proposal (something that is only necessary if the other parties agree to the proposal, as otherwise it remains no more than that).

Greens:  The Greens have the biggest reason to be unhappy with the proposal.   Although UKIP are (currently) ahead of them and the Lib Dems in the polls, the Greens do have, in Caroline Lucas, parliamentary representation and represent a growing and distinct force on the left of British politics.   Polls have recently shown them regularly even or (in one case) just ahead of the Lib Dems.  Thus if the logic of UKIP inclusion is that they now have an MP, then the Greens should be included.  If the logic is that UKIP have support in the opinion polls at a certain level, then with the Lib Dems included in two of the three debates, it is hard to deny the Greens’ right to be included, in at least one debate.    The biggest problem the Greens have, as a matter of principle, is that if it comes down to having an MP, then why not also include Respect.  The practical problem they have is that it is doubtful that they can afford expensive litigation to get themselves into the debates.

Nationalist/N Ireland Parties:  The SNP and Plaid Cymru have also expressed dissatisfaction.  Of course the Scottish, Welsh nationalist parties, and the Northern Ireland parties  with parliamentary representation have similar arguments to the Greens as to why they should be included.  There is, I think, a principled difference, which is none of those parties purports to be a UK wide national party.

With no real history of precedent (a one off in 2010 is, at the moment, just that) for leader debates in general elections and a parliamentary system, based on the election of MPs rather than direct election of the Prime Minister, the logic of the debates is always likely to be difficult to apply with consistency.   This also means there is plenty of material there for parties to use to avoid debates altogether if they wish to or to make it difficult for them to go ahead. The Independent’s John Rentoul is of the view that there will be no debates.   I am less sure about that, but I doubt very much that how they end up will be anything like the proposal currently suggested.

For what it is worth, if there are debates, I think there should be:

2 x head to head debates between David Cameron and Ed Miliband

1 x leaders debates between all UK-wide parties with parliamentary representation (including UKIP, Greens and, yes,  George Galloway)

1 x Scottish debate

1 x Welsh debate

1 x Northern Irish debate.

 

{ 2 comments }

#945: 1979, The Dickies, Banana Splits (Tra-La-La Song)

October 20, 2014

“….Meanwhile, back in North Towers, Ray was still making his way through his friend’s record collection. And after two very satisfying Toyah filled weeks, he was now on to the 7 inch singles. He leafed through them with barely concealed glee. There they were, Hand In Glove by Sandie Shaw and The Smiths, The Valley […]

Read the full article →

Week 42: Villain – Lord Freud

October 20, 2014

This week’s winner of the Villain of the Week award is the Tory Minister, Lord Freud. Lord Freud symbolises everything that is odious about modern political life. He is a public school, Cambirdge educated banker, a multi-millionaire who was first called into government and ennobled by Labour, who asked this rich, privileged man to oversee […]

Read the full article →

Week 42: Prat – David Treddinick MP

October 19, 2014

This Week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to Conservative MP for Bosworth and (extraordinarily) member of the Health Select Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, for his suggestions this week as to how the NHS should save money on Channel 4 news In a rational world David Tredinnick would have been laughed out […]

Read the full article →

Week 42: Hero – John Lydon

October 19, 2014

Singer John Lydon wins our ‘Hero’ award this week The recent publication of Lydon‘s autobiography, Anger is an Energy, have spurred a series of interviews by TV and the press. And what a delight they have been. First, last week there was the polite and pleasantly chatty interview on BBC Breakfast that took a sudden […]

Read the full article →

Cine-East Film Club Presents #55: 1962, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford)

October 18, 2014

Train Guard: ‘Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance’ Except that’s not true. For the man who shot Liberty Valance doesn’t get the girl, sees the home he was building for her burn down in a fire and dies in such obscurity that only a few old timers remember who he even […]

Read the full article →

#944: 1966, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Kicks

October 17, 2014

As befitting the name, they wore silly American Revolution era costumes.   As this clip shows they did really silly dances.   They were, then, a bit of a novelty band with a pretty crap gimmick, but hey this was the 1960s and this kind of stuff didn’t seem quite as naff then – look at any […]

Read the full article →

Why Ched Evans should be allowed back to work

October 17, 2014

I have stood up in the Courtroom in which Ched Evans was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for rape, on many hundreds of occasions, and on many of those occasions, I have told a judge that my client accepts that he will lose his liberty for his crime, but understands that he must use his […]

Read the full article →

‘Growth, growth, everywhere, but why are we so skint?’

October 16, 2014

By we, I mean those of us who are not earning massive salaries, and by skint, I mean, having the very services that we all rely upon devalued and diminished. This week we have seen the publication of a number of interesting economic statistics: unemployment is down, inflation is down, growth continues (though not it […]

Read the full article →

#943: 1980, The Clash, Something About England

October 15, 2014

The first verse sends shivers down my spine… They say immigrants steal the hubcaps Of the respected gentlemen They say it would be wine an’ roses If England were for Englishmen again The Clash wrote these lyrics to Something About England back in 1980. They could apply to the borderline fascist ideology from UKIP that […]

Read the full article →

Sportsnight #38: 2005, The Genius of Kevin Pietersen, The Ashes, 5th Test, The Oval

October 15, 2014

Good evening and welcome to Sportsnight. Tonight we feature a previously shown edition of our Sportsnight action, as we really need to talk about Kevin. Tonight’s action therefore once again comes from The Oval Cricket Ground, on the final afternoon the fifth test of quite possibly the greatest ever five-match Ashes series. It was an […]

Read the full article →

Allthatsleft Book Club #13: Pig Iron by Ben Myers

October 14, 2014

In my teens I read the Northern kitchen sink literature of Alan Sillitoe, Keith Waterhouse, Stan Barstow and John Braine. They were angry young men, usually Northern; grammar school boys who had been plucked from their working class roots and thrust socially upwards with the assistance of post-war free University education. They wrote with often […]

Read the full article →

#942: 1979, Public Image Ltd, Poptones

October 14, 2014

It really is autumn now: miserable, wet, dank, leaf-strewn autumn, heralding ever shortening days and months of cold. That most British of seasons. No song conjures up British autumn for me better than Poptones (released on Metal Box in November 1979). The combination of Jah Wobble‘s bass and Keith Levine‘s guitar somehow sounds like a wet […]

Read the full article →

Week 41: Villain – Nigel Farage

October 13, 2014

Yet again, the UKIP leader wins our Villain of the Week award In the week UKIP had its first Member of Parliament elected, and came within a whisker of a second, their leader yet again showed what a vile piece of work he is. No sooner had the polls closed than Farage let loose his ill-thought […]

Read the full article →

Week 41: Hero – Malala Yousafzai

October 13, 2014

This week’s hero is the Pakistani schoolgirl and campaigner for the rights of children and young girls, Malala Yousafzai. Malala has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace – fantastic! The good people who hand out the Nobel gongs don’t always get it right – Henry Kissinger, Barack Obama anyone? But, this time, fair play, […]

Read the full article →

Week 41: Prat(s) – Labour’s UKippy MPs

October 12, 2014

This Week’s Prats of the Week are those Labour MPs who have reacted to the UKIP surge of support in Thursday’s by-election by calling on Labour to adopt more UKIP-like policies There is no doubt about which political party won the political battle last week, and it was not the Lib Dems whose conference in […]

Read the full article →

The Album Collection #25: 1980, The Clash, Sandinista!

October 9, 2014

I recently spent an enjoyable evening listening to The Clash, London Calling and proceeded to made an impulse purchase of their follow up album from 1980, Sandinista! on iTunes. The last time I listened to Sandinista! was probably around 1992, as a student. I think I listened to the album twice, and eventually gave up […]

Read the full article →

By-Election Special: Heywood and Middleton

October 9, 2014

Today’s by-election in Heywood and Middleton should be won by Labour. But it might have been a different story if the election had been held on a different day. Of today’s by-elections, the media will focus most on Clacton, where most (including us) predict that UKIP will win its first parliamentary election. But Labour’s decision […]

Read the full article →

Cine-East Film Club Presents #54: 1972, Cabaret (Bob Fosse)

October 8, 2014

Sally Bowles: ‘Divine decadence, darling’ I am in Berlin.   It’s one of my favourite cities. I come here every year for the film festival with friends, which is held in February. This time though I am here with my wife and 5 month old baby, partly for a long needed break from London and partly […]

Read the full article →

#941: 1983: Nena, 99 Red Balloons

October 7, 2014

Those of us who write on these pages are usually frustrated by politics, excited by football and sport, befuddled by life in general, but always enthused, though occasionally divided, by music. It was, as we often remind ourselves, always about the music. Last Christmas, Mrs North gave me a record player, a proper turntable, with […]

Read the full article →

Week 40: Hero – the Hong Kong Protesters

October 6, 2014

This week, our panel has bestowed our regular Hero award on the people of Hong Kong protesting against the Chinese government’s curtailing of democracy. Many of us have protested – against steps our government are taking or for rights that are being denied. But what makes the protests in Hong Kong over the last week […]

Read the full article →

Week 40: Villain – Chris Grayling

October 6, 2014

This week’s Villain of the Week Award goes to the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, for his proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and for all intents and purposes withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1949 in the aftermath of the Second World War. […]

Read the full article →

By-Election Special: Clacton

October 5, 2014

Thursday sees the Clacton by-election, caused by its sitting former Conservative MP, Douglas Carswell, resigning his seat after joining UKIP to stand for his new party. Most pundits see Carswell romping to victory, and we are certainly not suggesting he will not be victorious, becoming the United Kingdom Independence Party’s (UKIP) first elected MP (they […]

Read the full article →

Week 40: Prat – Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear Team

October 5, 2014

This Week’s Prats are Jeremy Clarkson and the team from BBC’s ‘flag-ship programme’ Top Gear. You can imagine how it happened can’t you: there they all were, a few beers down the hatch, massive pay cheques in the bank, planning their latest escapade which involved taking a load of cars to Argentina. ‘I know,’ says […]

Read the full article →

Some tales of the ECHR

October 4, 2014

The European Convention on Human Rights, was enacted into UK law, with the Human Rights Act, at around the same time I became a barrister. As such, for me as a lawyer it has always been part of the legal framework, always there, not always loud, not always needed, but underpinning everything that is good […]

Read the full article →

The Tories and the End of the Rule of Law

October 3, 2014

As you might have noticed there has been stunned silence on this blog for the last few days.   A silence caused to some considerable degree of the rightward leap of the Conservative Party we have witnessed and the now truly terrifying prospect of a post-2015 David Cameron led government.   No one can say (as perhaps […]

Read the full article →

#940: 1985, Kate Bush, Cloudbusting

September 30, 2014

Tomorrow will see the last show in Kate Bush’s extraordinary 22 date run at Hammersmith Apollo, her first live gigs in 35 years.   These were concerts that no one in music thought would happen.   The tickets for the shows sold out in an astonishing 15 minutes when they were released back in May. I was […]

Read the full article →

Not afraid of the Tories? Well you should be!

September 30, 2014

The Tories are on the march. Forget the fact that they are still hated by most right thinking people, forget the fact that one of their Ministers has been caught out sending pictures of his knob to an undercover reporter (I have to say I feel a certain tang of sympathy towards Mr Newmark, I […]

Read the full article →

Week 39: Hero – Harry Smith

September 29, 2014

This week, 91 year old Harry Smith scoops our award for the greatest hero of the last seven days for his speech at the Labour Party Conference I have asked numerous Labour Party members who made the journey to Manchester for this year’s conference what their opinion of it all was. Whether Blairite or leftie, […]

Read the full article →