Daily Archives: 14 May 2007

Dealing with failure

Frank Field’s deconstruction of the New Deal for Young People makes damning reading. What is perhaps is even more damning is that despite the fact that despite the fact that the Department for Work and Pensions have had all day to formulate a response, the ‘rebuttal’ on the BBC website remains ultra-lame:

“Since 1997 the number of young people on unemployment benefits has fallen – not risen – by well over 100,000.”

… which only helps to make Field’s point. These kids are not getting jobs, they are turning into what is now ubiquitously referred to as ‘neets‘.

It is easy to forget quite what a flagship policy this was for Labour back in 1997. It was the basis of one of their famous five pledges and was initially funded by the only tax increase they promised – a windfall tax on utility companies. For a decade, if any opposition MP raised the merest of objections to how effective the policy is, the government came down on them like a ton of bricks. For years this has been trumpeted as one of their main, and most proud, achievements.

So for the New Deal to have not only failed to make progress on youth unemployment, but to actually go backwards, is a body blow to the pretty much everything Labour have stood for over the last decade. Add to this the disastrous tax credit fiasco and you can only marvel at the fact that the only person who has a shot at being their next leader is the main architect of such failure.

The inexorable rise of Chris Chibnell

After the last episode of Torchwood Season One, I offered my own considered thoughts on the programme which, with the exception of the Guppy Fans, appeared to go down quite well.

One of my arguments was that the main problem with the series was the lead writer: Chris Chibnell. In the last series he wrote 4 episodes. For season two, I am now informed, he will be writing 3. Well, that’s a sort of progress, I suppose.

Meanwhile, Chibnell will be returning this weekend with the Doctor Who offering 42. I’m torn on this one. A pre-watershed Chibnell might actually work, as one thing we are guaranteed is that Martha won’t be getting jiggy with the Doctor (or, to follow the Torchwood habit of giving all the sex to the ugly annoying sidekick, K9). On the other hand, and I’m guessing here, but I suspect the name of the episode has less to do with Douglas Adams and more to do with Jack Bauer. A 42 minute episode in real time? This is either going to work very well or very badly.

I’m magnanimous enough to hope it will be the former.

Will VoIP kill Eurovision phone-ins?

A simple thought: with VoIP services becoming ever more popular, will the price savings make it viable for mass cross-territorial voting in the Eurovision Song Contest?

Imagine if a campaign were to be run in a country the size of, say, the UK, to stitch up the Balkan states’ votes? In the short term, those desirable 8, 10 and 12 points might be out of reach, but it could certainly guarantee a better position than joint 22nd.

Malta has come out against the Eurovision phone-ins, possibly the first among many. If we want Eurovision to remain democratic, instead of a phone-in, why not have a deliberative citizen’s jury? Each country could still have a phone-in a few weeks before, but the entrants would be chosen by lot to sit on the judging panel. They would have to supply proof of residency in order to take their place.

A final question: how can you blame Scooch for doing so badly? The Great British Public voted for them – the Great British Public have no-one to blame but themselves.

Okay, okay, I’ll try to shut up about Eurovision now. Yeesh!