Archive for July, 2011

A flutter or two

Now writing on politics over the years seldom produces any feedback but last Saturday’s blog seems to have produced text messages and the odd phone call from those wanting more. It was the priceless prose, of course, and not the tips that got the response, Surely.

Although those that had a little flutter would have just have been a little ahead with one winner, one second and two thirds. Don’t mention of course the two horses still running.

A dear colleague has suggested that a regular weekend blog on the gee-gees might be a bit of fun. What he really meant was that political blogs were stirring up nothing but apathy. Anyway it is the silly season and for the next few months this blog will be taking a bit of a breather until the party conferences in September so why not idle away the occasional Saturday with such trivia.

First a word of re-assurance. This blog is untainted by the multi-million pound betting industry. Who needs them to encourage you to lose your money when this blog can do it equally as well.

But weekly column is pushing it a bit. If it’s to be done, it had better be done with at least a little research. That dear reader would require stamina and dedication, not attributes often associated with my good self and certainly not when holidays loom. But perhaps on some of the big occasions pen will be put to paper or whatever the modern equivalent is and a view will be ventured..

This Saturday is one such occasion, for it ends the week of Glorious Goodwood; alongside Ascot it is one of the highlights of the flat racing season.

Goodwood is near the West Sussex coast and as such, is often engulfed with a sea mist. It helps horse and even jockey, to know generally the direction they’re heading ’“ they’ve a better chance of winning if they head towards the winning post. An absence of fog, also, makes it easier for the punter to get excited if they too, can actually see a horse.

As race courses go, Goodwood is quite a complex. It has lot of sharp turns for the longer races and plenty of undulations and is right-handed. In the short 6 furlong races its uphill for the first furlong and then the rest is all down hill. A bit like this blog.

Go for low numbered horses in the sprints. Now if you see a large carthorse enter don’t back it or any other large long striding horse for that matter. Here size does matter and quite the contrary to other areas of life small and balanced is best, especially when running down hill.

With these wise words, here are Major Hughes’s selections; a military title in such things always gives confidence, don’t you think?

Some last minute advice before you put your shirts on these horses make sure the selection is running. It has been known for a horse to say, ‘I don’t fancy a run today’ and withdraws at the last minute. Mind you if it withdraws before the race you don’t lose your cash.

Well, OK it’s usually the trainer’s decision to withdraw and not that of the horse’s. Also make sure that whatever you back has four legs. ’˜Cos seldom has a three legged horse been successful at Goodwood or anywhere else for that matter. Those of a cautious nature look away or better still concentrate on who will win the Blue ribbon in this week’s Wrexham Eisteddfod.

Remember last week’s advice – back horses each way when the odds are above 7:1. Good luck!!

2:05 With 26 runners covering such a short distance this is more of a gamble than usual Golden Desert is fancied by a lot of tipsters but my money goes on Novellen Lad and Joseph Henry if you fancy big odds.

2:35 8 Newspapers tip Harlestone Times, nobody tips Activate but my money goes there

3:10 This one should be between Snow Fairy and Midday. It’s a toss of a coin job really.

3:45 Brave prospector takes my fancy with big odds, Hoof it is probably for the cautiou.s

4:20 Everyone seems to fancy Sport Section but Mickdaam does it for me.

4:55 Another big race Safari Storm has the shorter odds at 7.1 but my fancy is Travis County

5:35 Henry Cecil’s Diescentric is worth a punt but Truism is where my money goes.


Carwyn’s Progress

When communications were poor and regional control limited, what did our rulers do? They upped sticks and moved around. It was called the Royal Progress.

The King or Queen would regularly tour the kingdom with the purpose of asserting their rule and to win the loyalty of their subjects. It also had the additional bonus of getting out of London to escape the plague and by landing yourself on your rich subjects it was they that footed the bill of maintaining the Court. Many were bankrupted by such visits.

There is no suggestion that Carwyn Jones’s regional control is limited but many would argue that communications in Wales is not what it should be. Could this be behind our First Ministers decision to take his cabinet out of Cardiff for the first time to the spanking new Assembly building in Llandudno Junction?

Many have dismissed the decision as a bit of a gimmick to appease those who live in the North.

The constant moan of the Gogs is that everything goes to and happens in the South. They are the forgotten people, far, far away. The constant cry is ‘what has the Welsh Government ever done for us.’

In response Carwyn Jones had this cunning little plan to take the Cabinet to Llandudno Junction to conduct a closed Cabinet meeting on a little frequented industrial estate. Now if that was all, then it would be a bit inadequate as a response. A bit of a poor show, it could be said.

But the First Minister is one for doing things by stealth. This year, a simple cabinet meeting, next year, it will be the whole shooting match.

Carwyn’s Progress will be the full works. The Cabinet and all their courtiers/special advisors will be there. Entertainments will be arranged. It won’t be for a day, but it will be for weeks. Cabinet ministers will descend on unsuspecting communities, no hamlet will be without a visit.

Never again will the North be forgotten. They shall have government, the likes of which they’ve never seen before. Oh yes, a mere detail, they’ll have to foot the bill. The Progess doesn’t come cheap you know.


It’s the Royals that did it

Real GDP quarterly growth

‘Its not us gov., it’s the Japanese tsunami, and the Royal Wedding.’ These are the explanations/excuses used to justify Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increasing by only 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, a much lower figure than the 0.5 per cent of the first quarter.

The Office of National Statistics reckons that these two events knocked 0.5% off GDP growth in the second-quarter.

But the truth is there are always one off factors. The weather is too hot or too cold, snow – they have more excuses than Network rail. Although to be fair to them they haven’t used leaves on the line as a factor to affect output, but undoubtedly it will come.

If the economy is robust these events are of little significance. No, such events take on an undue importance only when the economy has flat lined and shows such low output as has been witnessed by the UK economy this last year.

This kind of economic performance will hardly cause the Chancellor to rejoice, but being a politician the silver lining will be a great deal larger than the cloud that contains it. He will claim that the economy is still growing, which is true, all be it at a dreadfully slow rate.

But if politicians did embarrassment, which of course they don’t, the Chancellor would be red faced now. Why? Well, it was he no less that predicted in his March budget that the UK economy would grow by 1.7 per cent this year. This now seems as realistic a prospect as Wales winning the soccer European Nations Cup. Nil chance.

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about the need for a plan B, these figures today further underline the fact.

At a time of such low growth it is a nonsense to cut so dramatically and so quickly on public expenditure. In Wales there is a big dependence on this sector for work, but more importantly it is the private sector that suffers most. Who builds the public housing, the schools and hospitals? No, not nationalized industries but the private sector.

Cutting the public sector also puts the skid under consumer expenditure. The message has certainly got through to each one of us that these are desperate times. And our reaction; not spend, spend spend. No, frugality is the order of the day. The trip to the shops become few and far between, sales go down, and just as night follows day, output goes down too.

So forget the Royal Wedding, Olympic tickets, warm weather and the Tsunami. The cause of our woes lives in a terraced house somewhere in central London.