Tag Archives: sky

Sexism in football – and the Pope is a Catholic?

Football is a sport dominated by men and so the pervasive culture of the game is male-oriented. It is usually just sexist, but at worst, just plain misogynistic. So it’s no surprise to hear the off-air comments by Sky pundits Richard Keys and Andy Gray where they complain about a female assistant referee officiating a game.

It might be true that sexism is still part of football culture, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to judge professionals on the basis of gender alone. As many other pundits have found, comments about race lead to certain sacking – who knows if Sky will judge these comments as strongly?

Can someone tell me the difference?

They deserve to be fired just for perpetuating these stereotypically macho views in the public domain – even if they did not expect their comments to be broadcast.

If those who lead the game can’t even deal with sexism then how will they ever deal with the endless racism and homophobia that continues to blight the game. Come on Sky, give them the boot. This is the 21st Century, we don’t need these ‘Gene Hunt’-era “experts” on TV…

——

Richard Keys: Well, somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.

Andy Gray: Yeah, I know. Can you believe that? Female linesman. Forget what I said – they probably don’t know the offside rule.

RK: Course they don’t.

AG: Why is there a female linesman? Somebody’s fucked up big.

RK: I can guarantee you there’ll be a big one today. Kenny [Dalglish, Liverpool’s manager] will go potty. This is not the first time. Didn’t we have one before?

AG: Yeah.

RK: Wendy Toms.

AG: Wendy Toms, something like that. She was fucking hopeless as well.

RK: [exasperated groan]

AG: [inaudible]

RK: No, no, it’s got to be done, it’s good. The game’s gone mad. See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour, love.
Brazil v Sweden, Emirates Stadium

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Ealing on Sunday

Ealing was certainly the place to be yesterday.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was hosting a Sky Ride all through the local area. This involved shutting a large number of local roads to make a circuit all around Ealing where cyclists could enjoy the sun without dodging cars or buses – Ealing became a cycling paradise for the day and over 11,000 registered cyclists took part. I went around the course and I wasn’t on the official registered list, and I saw plenty of other people just joining at random too…
Ealing Sky Ride

Then later in the day I was at Walpole park for the annual opera in the park event – Tosca this year. I had seats in the front row and it was an excellent show. Tosca is a tragic opera and the action kept everyone going – considering how hot it was out there in the park it must have been difficult for the performers. The pianist even had to take off his jacket…

Tosca in Walpole Park, Ealing

And all this, after spending Saturday down in Somerset drinking scrumpy…!

Election TV

Now that it’s all over, I thought I’d post a quick summary of what I think happened on TV last week.

It’s fairly simple in my view. The BBC went way over the top with their election studio. It was grand and impressive, but despite the lack of presentation, ITV in their little studio on the Grays Inn road were getting all the results first. Sometimes, ITV was 10 or more seats ahead of the BBC. The BBC also did that horrendous ‘ship of fools’ stunt where celebs were given alcohol on a Thames boat, so they could comment on the results to Andrew Neil. Neil does a good job of serious interviews, but here he was charged with trying to elicit content from the likes of Bruce Forsyth and Joan Collins. I cringed as I watched them offer their views on the election.

The saving grace for the BBC was David “the machine” Dimbleby. This election was possibly his finest hour – or 24 hours. He started presenting live on Thursday evening and then went straight through the night and into the chaos of the next day. I’m not sure when he stopped, but I estimated he had gone through to Friday lunchtime – others told me they saw him on air later. Yet he looked fresh and confident throughout. What a performance!

ITV’s set may have felt a bit cheap and cheerful, but they did get all the results first, they had some decent analysis that was not overwhelming (another BBC fault with Jeremy Vine and his green screen) and they really included the online community in the show. They were first to run the Youtube videos of people who could not vote, they had regular looks at Twitter to see what was being said, and they had Will Straw and Guido Fawkes blogging live from the ITV studios.

Sky was informative – they know how to get an immense amount of information on the screen at the same time. Watching Sky news is a bit like watching one of those financial news channels in Asia – three news tickers thundering across the screen with images and audio commentary that are not necessarily connected. But Sky did manage to put a good show together – their major failing in this election has been their partiality.

Everyone knows the Murdoch press favoured the Conservative party, but when it starts feeling like that on Sky News then it’s dangerous for a news channel that should be impartial and informative.

So, in my view, it was ITV news wot won it. Alastair Stewart may get something of a career resurgence from this as he was a decent host during the leader debates (suffering the disadvantage of being first and having to interpret all those debate rules) and a very strong host for the election evening itself.

Next time, I’ll just stay tuned to ITV. I never thought I would be saying that.
Big Ben and London bus

Is immigration ‘a good thing’?

Gordon Brown is in trouble today. A woman complained to him about the number of immigrants coming into the UK… a familiar complaint he has heard many times before, but this time he made a private comment about her in his car just after the event – calling her a ‘bigoted woman’ – and Sky News had left their radio microphone on his suit… so the private comments were recorded and replayed to the world.

It was a private comment, and many would credit Brown with telling the frank truth, but Sky can’t be blamed for using the material – any broadcaster would love to have an indiscretion like this on record.

But is the woman just reflecting what the majority think, and is the Prime Minister reacting in a liberal left way – horrified that someone might criticise those from another country, or race, or faith?

The immigration question is one of the hardest for our politicians to deal with because they never seem to quite get it right. The Labour party at present has made it almost impossible for unskilled workers to enter the UK, encouraged people with specific skills to come using the Highly Skilled Migrant Worker programme, simplified visa approvals using a points-based system, and made it far harder for foreign students to work and overstay their visa.

When you list the measures Gordon Brown has presided over, it looks quite tough on immigrants, but the public perception is that Johnny Foreigner continues to flood into the country. The reality is that immigration is reducing – mainly because of the economic downturn and fragile recovery – but again, why ruin perception with reality?

So, is the problem just that nobody trusts politicians anyway?

This is really the power of the BNP and UKIP. They don’t behave like ‘normal’ politicians and they focus on the immigration and ‘foreigner’ issues. UKIP has pledged to ban immigration for five years if they had any power over legislation, the BNP has been watering down the racist content of their manifesto, but they still appear to actively favour repatriation of migrant workers.

These parties are getting considerable support with their extreme views, and that’s really because of a failing by the major three parties to be seen to be doing something. Brown has argued this point on all the genuine changes he has made to the system. Clegg has argued that we need a better understanding of who is here illegally – potentially leading to an amnesty because that would not change the number of people working, but it would mean they pay tax. Cameron has argued for an absolute cap on immigration numbers by skills.

All three of the major parties have ideas on immigration, but they are all essentially failing to communicate the positive values of welcoming people – with skills – to Britain. The skills that help the British economy to succeed – and therefore allows us to live in a prosperous nation far richer than a population of 60m would suggest.

They are also failing to explain the different types of immigration; what is a refugee, what is an asylum seeker, what is a highly-skilled migrant… and the freedom of labour movement within the 27-nation European Union. All these issues are entirely confused in the arguments of the ‘bigot’… that’s not implying that those who oppose immigration are stupid, but any debate on immigration has to focus on the real issue that concerns them: Are people coming in and taking work from locals?

If that is what people perceive then the mainstream parties need to show that it is not the case, or what they intend to do about it, and they need to do this in a way that people believe. The Prime Minister has a good grasp of facts, but when he reels off stats about this and that, the public switch off and ask why the corner shop sells Polish food. Without once realising that the Polish shop down the road was a Punjabi shop twenty years ago.

The major politicians need to explore why normal people are so attracted by the BNP on this issue, why normal people don’t see any value from the European Union – they just see it as Eastern European workers coming to take jobs, and why a caring and tolerant society like the UK should close the shutters to those not born here.

Leaders’ debate – round two

The leaders’ debate on Sky last night was a more charged event that the first. They really argued this time. They were all clearly more comfortable with the format, and Sky political editor Adam Boulton seemed content to just sit back and let them slug it out. It was not a bad strategy, but sometimess Boulton did allow them to stick to a single subject for too long – he could have moved it on a few times.

What is really interesting to observe is that the instant polls are useless. They reflect the prejudice of the people who would support one particular party anyway. So the YouGov poll sponsored by the Sun came out strongly in support of Cameron having won. The Channel 4 poll came out strongly in favour of Clegg, and so on…

Personally I thought it was very close this time. Clegg probably was still in front by a nose, but they were all close together. That actually says a lot for Brown, who should be doing much worse in the debates as the incumbent and conversely it also means Cameron is not landing punches when he should have a sitting target. It’s all wide open.

Chancellor's Debate on C4