Greetings at the end of another week – well, seven days since the last column – that have seen some terrifying and painful scenes across the world, in contrast to the delight we’ve had for the return of racing. We take joy in a lot here – but please don’t forget those who are struggling to deal with such terrible oppression worldwide.
First things first: Congratulations to HuffPost’s Nadine White & Emma Youle for their nominations for the Paul Foot Award 2020 for a brilliant joint investigation into SPAC Nation you can – and should – read it below.
And on that note….
Top Reads Of The Week:
One of the online phenomenon of our age has been TikTok. If you’re unfamiliar with it then I’d definitely learn about it – Fergal O’Brien’s yard do a terrific job there – but its role in politics is absolutely vital and Penny Andrews, who is so expert at analysing these events, has penned a must read piece on this:
Today should be the first day of the test summer. How we so very miss those dulcet tones of test match special (TMS) playing on the airwaves. Thanks to the terrific work of the ECB and West Indies cricket board, we can look forward to it, but that doesn’t make this fantastic piece by Vithushan Ehantharajah on what we’re missing today any less beautiful.
The HuffPost’s Nadine White has written some outstanding work – again as you can see above – and in a week when the spotlight has been on race relations, this is necessary reading about the Labour Party’s relationship with black members too.
Also, this – from the excellent Gal-Dem team, on how to support Black Lives Matter without protesting:
On a brighter note, here’s Peter Kellner in Prospect on the joy of re-watching British elections:
And last but not least, this excoriating and brilliant takedown of the decision to scrap virtual Parliament by Dr Hannah White of the Institute for Government, for the same magazine:
Top Listens Of The Week:
The Next Episode is a feature here most weeks and the Black Lives Matter episode on it is especially important reading if you want to understand why protests have been taking place all over the UK. Superbly presented by Linda Adey, with Nadine White and Quintez Brown offering their insight.
On the same note, Anoosh Chakelian & Stephen Bush’s conversation on the same issue was profound and insightful on the New Statesman podcast:
Last but never least, I’ve very much enjoyed the return of weighed-in-racing with the “forthright” Tony Calvin, Kevin Blake and Hugh Cahill. Nature is returning, as they say.
Tweets Of The Week:
[Thread] 1/ In the UK aggressive online attacks on the press and journalists continue following the #DominicCummings scandal. The "scum media" hashtag seems to be escalating. This thread is an analysis of around 28000 interactions/tweets on Twitter from around 9013 accounts. pic.twitter.com/IeoSZVQc5m
— Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) May 28, 2020
I guess I'll do a summary of the UK news thing, not because anyone asked, but because I was dumb enough to watch it. I'm taking broad strokes here…
— Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) May 25, 2020
* I only saw these in the last week
Word Of The Week: Comeback (noun): a return by a well-known person, especially an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful.
“Racing’s comeback this week started at Newcastle and ended with the Guineas at Newmarket.”
The Great Game
First things first, let’s be grateful for having racing back in our lives, with all that’s going on. It’s vital not only for the sport’s finances – in the near term, as we know crowds will be needed at some point – but also for its standing with the sporting public. Until the return of Premier League football on the 17th, racing (either horse or greyhound) is the only elite level sport taking place in this country, and it will have the benefit of ITV1’s prime time Saturday slot too – without taking on a single other live event in this country. There’s lots to hope for, but an incident free weekend is surely top of the list.
This tweet from Tony Calvin asking how exactly people got into the game. The most common response is ‘betting’, but the interesting ‘debate’ between him and Geoffrey Riddle on how people got into the game is also worth having a look at. As someone who watches racing as a sport like any other, I love a bet like anyone else – but there’s much to be done for promotion the sport the same way football, rugby, cricket, F1, or tennis does.
If I knew how to do a poll, I'd run one. What makes you watch racing? Betting, I assume. 95pc of you? The @BetfairRacing Podcast returns. And, by the way, feel free to DM me if your questions weren't addressed this week. I'll answer; https://t.co/hSvcH0Gpdr
— Tony Calvin (@tony_calvin) June 4, 2020
The Government Of Idiots
A penny for the thoughts of literally anyone who can attempt to explain why – having implemented a much needed system of remote voting – would make hundreds of MP’s stand in line for half an hour or more, with crushes at staircases and escalators, whilst also excluding MP’s who are shielding?
There isn’t a good explanation. Now the Government did make a u-turn of sorts – there is a “Proxy Voting Standing Order” – but according to the motions laid out in the House of Commons order paper today (Thursday) proxy voting will only be allowed for members who are absent because:
they are in “childbirth or care of an infant” or “because they themselves are at high risk from coronavirus for reasons that they are either ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘clinically vulnerable”.
However, MP’s who cannot be in Westminster will be denied not only a chance to vote on proceedings, but also a chance to be involved in debates – both things absolutely vital to scrutinising the Government, especially when they’re leading the response to a pandemic.
When YouGov ran a poll asking for the public’s views on this, just 12% of Brits said MPs should have to be in Parliament to vote during the COVID-19 crisis. Thank god, Alok Sharma tested negative for Coronavirus this afternoon, having looked very unwell yesterday during business questions. Symptoms can take 3-5 days to show up, so it’s good to know that he was with the Prime Minister and Chancellor for 45 minutes yesterday – at a social distance, of course.
The People’s Government.
Just 12% of Brits say MPs should have to be in Parliament to vote during the COVID-19 crisis, with news emerging that a minister who fell ill during his Commons speech today has been tested for the disease.
— YouGov (@YouGov) June 3, 2020
Question: How old is Tom Power (legendary bookmaker of POWER in the 1980’s, and betting hero to many)?
Timbo via Email
Answer: I hope he’ll answer in a Betting People interview someday when either me or Simon asks him, but a good source said 73 or 74. Hope the old legend’s doing well.
Question: How does Ben get his six pack?
Jack, via Email
Answer: Some secrets are never revealed but with a greyhound to keep him on the go I’m sure he uses the unlimited exercise that the Government allows to the max. I shall keep to my daily walking regimen.
Question: Who is hotter – Simon Nott or William K?
Connor, via Email
Answer: It could only be Simon. After all, he used to be in a band and has gone travelling too = that’s the definition of dreamboat.
Question: How many dog tracks have closed since 1995 in the UK?
Graeme, via Email (Yes, a theme here!)
Answer: This graph suggests there were 35 or so tracks in 1995 – there are now 23. In any case, that’s just too many and it’s great to see greyhound racing back as soon as their four legged horse counterparts. Indeed, greyhounds are now being shown on HD on the Sky Sports Racing channel (that’s SKY 415, which is fantastic to see!
Question: Will the Tingle Creek at Sandown be run with a small crowd allowed?
Tom (and you guessed it, via email)
Answer: It’s impossible to be confident, but other sports may lead the way here. There are supposedly plans to bring fans back to the Premier League on a ‘phased’ basis and in Europe some clubs are hoping to get fans back into stadiums. It should be far easier to keep racegoers safe than football fans – even the narrowest racecourses have wide amounts of open space – but going from the system now is going to require Government approval and the public health of the nation will decide that. It looks a long shot, in my view.
Ask in all the usual places if you have something you’d like answered for then, but for now – Stay Alert, Stay Safe, and Stick With Star Sports!
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.