Welcome back to one and all, and hopefully this finds you in good health after a successful week ‘at’ Royal Ascot.
Top Reads Of The Week:
One of the few habits that has served me well is to avoid commenting upon areas I’m not an expert in, so you won’t find any big opinions from me regarding the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey. However, I have read a lot over the past day or two that I’ve found very interesting on the subject. Not all these pieces will agree with each other, but if you want to understand more about the views and issues at hand then these pieces might be worth reading.
Paul Waugh’s inside line on what happened yesterday:
Stephen Bush’s analysis of where this leaves the politics of the Labour Party:
The New Socialist’s Editorial, which calls for Socialist Campaign Group MP’s to resign: https://newsocialist.org.uk/editorial-sacking-rebecca-long-bailey/
And a long Twitter thread by Sara Rose Gibbs on the issue:
I think the RLB thing is incredibly hard to unpick & you need a shit tonne of context to understand why it was dodgy, which is why most people won’t. And it’s so effing hot, I don’t want to have to explain it, but I fear I must & bear with me, will do my best. 1/
— Sara Gibbs (@Sara_Rose_G) June 25, 2020
And an excerpt from Ash Sarkar’s morning email too:
The above all have differing viewpoints – and no one view is being endorsed here, but they were worth reading all the same.
In other reads this week:
This piece from Sarah Manavis on how she and her sister moved apart over the years is a beautiful and emotional read:
A repost, from the excellent Penny Andrews: How Tik Tok got political (and this is required reading for political punters who are trying to map new trends) https://theconversation.com/how-tiktok-got-political-139629
And an explanation as to why the cabinet hasn’t functioned as you’d hoped it would, by Nick Hargrave in the Times Red Box:
Listens Of The Week:
It’s an-odds on shot that most of you will already be listeners to, or even watchers of, the the Coronavirus Newscast – and readers of the diary or followers of mine on Twitter will be left in no doubt as to how much I enjoy the podcast – but this conversation between Homelessness Czar Dame Louise Casey, Adam Fleming and Laura Kuenssberg is enlightening, inspiring and frustrating at the same time too.
Matt Chorley is one of a new host of presenters moving to Times Radio, the much vaunted new station which launches on Monday. How that works out remains to be seen in a hotly contested radio landscape, but Chorley’s look back at the last four years on his Red Box podcast is a wild and gripping journey through some of the most turbulent times in recent British history.
Word Of The Week:
‘Himbo’ (noun) a good-looking but unintelligent young man.
“She’s bagged herself another Himbo – must be nice.”
Tweet Of The Week:
— Jasmine Baba (@_jasminebaba) June 25, 2020
A Right Royal Closed Doors Success
That Royal Ascot took place this year is credit to an extraordinary set of team efforts. There were no crowds, no Royal Family, no packed trains from Reading and Waterloo and no on course tales – not that Simon Nott could be stopped from tracking all bets with his typical focus – but there was top quality racing, the one thing that matters above all else.
We also had excellent coverage – no mean feat given the logistical challenges of broadcasting – from ITV and Sky Sports Racing to boot, with excellent viewing figures on ITV too, the best since 2012.
A mea culpa moment here – I wasn’t sure that hosting Ascot so early in the season would work, especially with the juvenile races – but this unique meeting clearly thrived in its own right and also with the absence of other sports, and all involved deserve a big hand.
More Or Less
No, I’m not talking about the brilliant BBC Radio 4 programme, but the changed card for Ascot this year. What the racing world will look like next year is anybody’s guess, but already there have been some discussions as to whether some of the changes could be kept. What of a Silver Wokingham or Hunt Cup becoming a permeant fixture? Or indeed, a handicap for 1m6f horses – a much used distance for staying handicaps? Or indeed, as Kevin Blake has suggested, taking the Ascot Stakes down to 2 miles and widening the ratings band.
The strength of the Saturday this season – with the Coronation, St James’s Palace, and Diamond Jubilee all run consecutively – pleased many onlookers, although having the big prizes in midweek has proven to be very effective when other sports were taking place as normal. Perhaps moving the St James’s Palace to Saturday, giving Guineas contenders more of a break in the future, could bolster the end of the week more.
The return of football has pleased most but disappointed some, with fans bemoaning the lack for atmosphere at grounds. Now we all miss going to games, and of course the incredible colour that football fans provide, but that we’re playing at all in the middle of a pandemic is something we ought to savour, and yours truly has become fairly accustomed to crowd noise.
Race For The Title
Last but never least, congratulations to Liverpool. Their long wait – 30 years, in case you haven’t heard – for the title was ended when Chelsea beat Manchester City in a thriller last night and it’s nothing less than all at the club deserve, especially after a phenomenal effort to be nosed out by Manchester City last season. The club’s coronavirus response – like many of the Premier League’s leading lights, to give due credit – has also been very admirable from the start.
This season’s Premier League was never in doubt for months, but next season has the potential to be a brilliant title race. Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side have made two huge moves to bring Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to Stamford Bridge, but they are improving in their own right and have looked like the finished product on more than one occasion this season, especially with the fine form of Christian Pulisic in recent weeks. It’s not beyond them to make a proper title run next season if they convert more of the many chances they make at Stamford Bridge, whilst it’s very unlikely that Manchester City will produce the numbers they did last season without getting much greater reward. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of a late start, reduced pre-season, moved transfer window, the AFCON in January and then the Copa America and Euros in June.
Next season will be….. eventful.
🌞 Question: How many face masks do you own, and which one is your favourite?
Tim, Surrey (via Email)
Answer: I must admit to having laughed very hard when I saw this! My collection is at 25 I believe – yes, really – and I love each and every one of them, although my Star Sports mask is of course my favourite!
🌞 Question: Do you think pubs and restaurants will be safe when they are allowed to reopen? Will you be visiting?
Paul, London (via Email)
Answer: I think there’s a managed risk to any any activity – it will never be 100% ‘safe’ to do things like this – but examples from elsewhere in Europe show that restaurants at least can be reopened. Pubs are a different matter, as they will vary from place to place. A big, modern Wetherspoons is going to be much easier to socially distance in than an Old English Pub (as an example) and there definitely will be better times to visit. I hope to make a first visit soon, but you won’t find me there on the opening weekend for all the free pints of Guinness you could offer. After the initial rush though, I’d like to make a visit and support some great locals.
🌞 Question: What is Ben’s favourite Haribo?
Beth, via Email:
Answer: Like quite a few questions that I get, this one has floored me! I’ll find out from the great man himself.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts, anything at all – please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org !
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.