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Archive for April, 2015

The South West of England has since 1997 been the definition of a two party state. Since 1979 the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have been steadily eradicating Labour from this part of the country and in what looks to be set to be a dreadful general election for them, the South West may be the saving grace for the Lib Dems. There is contradictory polling evidence as to how bleak the picture is for the Lib Dems for this part of the country. COMRES has the Lib Dems being all but wiped out whilst other constituency level polling has the Lib Dems holding half or more of their seats. What the true picture is we will only know on May 7th. Without further ado then, here are my seven seats to watch. (more…)

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An ignorant Englishman he may be, but Will Cooling thinks the lack of outrage about Sinn Fein refusing to take their seats in what promises to be most finely balanced Parliament since before the Second Reform Act is very strange. 

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The West Midlands is a region packed with Lab-Con marginals and it is no great surprise that the party leaders have already spent a great deal of time in this region. In 2010 the Conservatives did better in the West Midlands than they did in the UK as a whole. Because of this most of these marginals are defended by Conservatives and if Labour has any hope not only of winning a majority, but even of becoming the largest party, they will have to do well in this region. As for the Lib Dems, this is a particularly barren region for them. They only hold two seats and might lost both of them. Here are my seven seats to watch. (more…)

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Labour Party may be ahead in the polls but it has one fundamental weakness in this campaign – it is fighting on so many different fronts simultaneously. Bizarrely Ed Miliband has demanded that he gatecrash tonights BBC’s ‘Challengers Debate’ in a move that can only damagingly expose the tensions at the heart of his Labour Party.

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Today marks the return of English Test Cricket after an unusually long break. It sadly begins with a series that pretty nobody cares about. Many of the biggest names in West Indian cricket are playing in the IPL and English fans have been so conditioned by the media and reality to ignore any game that isn’t against one of ‘The Big Three’.

It’s hard to overstate what a sad decline this is for the West Indies. They used to be the biggest box office attraction in world cricket and even today their batsmen wow Indian fans in the IPL. But since the late-nineties their team has imploded. Often the blame is put on misadministration but the reality is that West Indian cricket has always been badly run with poor facilities and low wages being the norm. The saving grace was that players such as Learie Constantine in the 1920s, Sir Viv Richards in the 1970s and Brian Lara in the 1990s were able to earn a living and gain notoriety whilst playing professional cricket in England. I was not a cricket fan growing up but I always remember my Uncle Don being glued to Warwickshire as Lara made his first and the only 500 in the history of First Class cricket.

Not only were they ticket-sellers for their club or county sides but the experience they gained made the West Indians a stronger side. The easy pathway to playing in England convinced young West Indians that cricket was a viable career and the experience those that made the trip gained was invaluable. Imagine how much better would the modern-day West Indian Test side be if their players had several years at an English county under their belt? How much more would we all be looking forward to England’s tour of the West Indians in such a scenario?

The answers to both questions show how self-defeating the ECB’s xenophobic rules on who can play in the County Championship are.

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In the closest General Election campaign in living memory, Scotland moves from being a traditional backwater of British politics looks set to be the most uncertain battlefield of all. Before moving on to the individual seats to look at it is important to underline how uncertain the final result in Scotland is likely to be. In its latest Nowcast, YouGov has fully three fifths of Scotland’s seats in the too close to call category. So without too much further adieu these are my seven seats to watch although please note that none of them are in Glasgow because the SNP will rule them all.

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This week has marked the start of the Indian Premier League, the all-conquering colossus that as a condition of being a British passport holder and a cricket fan I’m meant to dismiss as a great corrupting force in our honourable game. And there’s no doubt that the IPL has warped the game of cricket in ways that are unwelcome or that the BCCI too often wields it power to its own benefit. It is however increasingly hard not to accept that the England and Cricket Wales Board are the true villains of the piece.

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