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Food prices have been falling

The UK’s inflation rate fell to the psychologically important level of 2% in December, down 0.1% from the month before. It’s the first time inflation has been at or below the government’s target of 2% since November 2009 and means that Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, can breathe a sigh of relief.

Mark Carney Governor of the Bank of England

Mark Carney
Governor of the Bank of England

The news that the Consumer Prices Index had fallen to a new low was welcomed by Prime Minister, David Cameron. He turned to Twitter, writing that it was “…welcome news that inflation is down and on target. As the economy grows and jobs are created this means more security for hard-working people.”

This is the sixth successive month that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported a drop in inflation. The reason is that food prices have been falling – indeed, the change in the price of both food and non-alcoholic drinks was the smallest it had been since 2006. Discounts in the run up to Christmas also helped, with the prices of toys and computer games falling faster last month than they had a year ago.

By contrast, there has been a slight increase in the cost of road fuel; and the recent increases in domestic gas and electricity prices were announced after the latest data had been collected..

The new rate is still well above the growth in average earnings. However, some economists predict that this situation may end later this year when average pay rises start to rise above inflation. They also believe that the latest news will ease pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates in the light of the recent recovery in the economy.

Labour’s Treasury spokeswoman, Catherine McKinnell, said that the fall in the inflation rate was welcome, “but with prices still rising more than twice as fast as wages the cost-of-living crisis continues. After three damaging years of flat-lining, working people are on average £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories.”

This season, it’s all about the jacket for Watson.
Pictures from the BBC

By Sarah Artt, Edinburgh Napier University

The third season of the BBC’s Sherlock opens with a bang and gives us Derren Brown, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock in an action hero window smash, followed by an insouciant hair tousle and a Hollywood kiss with Molly Hooper. The opening of Empty Hearse is more in the style of Guy Ritchie’s fantasy Victoriana Sherlock Holmes films, and could not be more different from the show’s more procedural beginnings.

This similarity with Ritchie is certainly deliberate, because Season 3 of Sherlock shows its infinite adaptability by incorporating the style of the two recent Sherlock Holmes films, along with various elements of the infinitely flexible Sherlock canon. As someone who is quite happy at the prospect of living in an era with three different iterations of Sherlock (Cumberbatch, Johnny Lee Miller in Elementary and Robert Downey Jr. in the two Ritchie films), I’m also quite happy that they adapt and reference one another.

Sherlock as a series is also clever about its Victorian origins, particularly when it comes to costumes, and the latest season is no exception. Upon his return to London, we are treated to a sweeping, Romantic image of Sherlock surveying the city from on high, clad in his now iconic great coat; an image that recalls the powerful 19th century explorer. This is just one of the myriad Victorian allusions embedded in the Mark Gatiss and Seven Moffat’s costumes and design for Sherlock.

Steampunk and shoulder patches

Dr Waton's Haversack Jacket

Dr Waton’s Haversack Jacket

Consider the attention accorded to John Watson’s black Haversack jacket, which he wears consistently throughout the three series. The jacket has received a GQ fashion profile, not to mention endless remarks on Twitter. Haversack is a Japanese label that reproduces and draws inspiration from traditional menswear and workwear. Watson’s jacket expresses a sort of commercialised steampunk aesthetic, a gesture towards an earlier era. Its leather shoulder patch evokes the structure of military uniforms (something we see Jude Law’s Watson wearing in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, for example) delineating Watson’s status as soldier. The jacket is contemporary and yet evocative of Victorian “period” professions and pursuits.

The décor of 221B Baker Street in Sherlock is absolutely neo-Victorian, with its bison skull adorned with headphones that forms a focal point of the sitting room. The skull evokes the décor of traditional private men’s clubs or military messes – the trophy from a big game hunt. The headphones on the skull reflect the contemporary presence of technology via laptops, smartphones, blogs, and the Skype-like software deployed in season two’s A Scandal in Belgravia. The pairing of skull and headphones encapsulates the show’s fusing of 19th and 21st century.

As embodied by Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock adapts the Victorian fantasy of total mastery over knowledge. Though apparently as flummoxed by composing a best man’s speech as he was by his nemesis Irene Adler’s voracious sexuality, he once more demonstrates this near-total mastery in The Sign of Three by delivering a deeply moving speech and solving the crime, just as he outwits Adler by confirming her deep longing for him in season 2.

Mary Watson A woman with a past

Mary Watson
A woman with a past

The series as a whole mocks this aspiration to total knowledge while also, for the most part, presenting a Holmes who expresses an astonishing level of knowledge. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the line: “Get out, I need to go to my mind palace”. Yet Sherlock’s mastery is undermined by his frequently remarked-upon social ineptitude: Mary observes that he knows nothing about human nature after he bungles his reappearance in The Empty Hearse.

What also makes the original Holmes stories timely is that many of them centre around the theft and retrieval of information. In A Scandal in Belgravia and The Hounds of Baskerville, referencing two of the most well-known stories in the Holmes canon, concerns with information and technology are front and centre. The season 3 finale His Last Vow also centres on the information that surrounds Mary Watson’s past and how the Appledore files of blackmailer Magnussen will be deployed.

All these versions of Sherlock Holmes can exist simultaneously because they demonstrate how the presence of Sherlock and Watson act as anchors for the story. Sherlock has weathered the sometimes troublesome shift to the present moment particularly well due in no small part to its carefully constructed neo-Victorian references.

Sarah Artt does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

How ‘accountable’ are our politicians?

If you are to believe the politicians, then politics is about openness, accountability and trust. The problem today however is that all too many people don’t believe their politicians. Now the magazine, Computer Weekly, has provided at least some evidence to support that view. It’s reported that the Conservative Party has attempted to delete all of the speeches and press releases that have been published online in the past 10 years – even attempting to remove any record of them from search engines. The speeches include one in which the Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised to use the Internet to make politicians “more accountable”.

David CameronAccording to the magazine, the Tories have used what is known as a “robot blocker” which in effect asks any search engine to stop looking and indeed go away! In an uncharacteristically frank comment, the magazine suggests that the party was trying to hide these speeches in the same “secretive corner of the Internet as those that shelter the military, secret services, gangsters and paedophiles”. At least one commentator has described this as an “outrageous subversion of democracy”, pointing out that the whole point of putting people into power is to hold them to the promises they make. If they break those promises, they risk getting punished the ballot box.

The party stands accused of trying to delete all record of the promises made before the last election. For example, they include the “Big Society Manifesto” which was part of the party’s central platform back in 2010. Then there is the promise to make the Internet more transparent in order to “bridge the gap” between the government and voters – also gone! Then there was the promise by George Osborne back in 2006 that a future Tory government would increase state spending by 2% the following three years.

Lord Prescott (Creative Commons)

Lord Prescott
(Creative Commons)

The interesting thing is that the Conservatives have made no attempt to hide what they’re doing – and don’t seem in the slightest embarrassed at having been found out. It insists that the changes to its website were simply an attempt to clean it up. As a spokesman explained, “we’re making sure our website keeps the Conservative Party at the forefront of political campaigning. These changes allow people to quickly and easily access the most important information we provide – how we are clearing up Labour’s economic mess, taking the difficult decisions and standing up for hard-working people.”

Others are much more cynical! Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, took to Twitter and asked “how do Tories stop being accused of breaking election promises? By DELETING all pre-2010 speeches and press releases!” And the Labour MP for Edinburgh East, Sheila Gilmore added that it would “take more than David Cameron pressing delete to make people forget about his broken promises and failure to stand up for anyone beyond a privileged few.”

Inside McDiarmid Park, Home of St Johnstone FC
(Picture from Wikipedia)

Saturday
For all that the main stream media – both in print and over the airwaves – would downplay the importance or significance of social media, I can’t help notice just how many column inches and broadcast minutes are given over to Celtic manager Neil Lennon’s views about Twitter … More the power of football than of social media.

Sunday
St Johnstone LogoAnother Sunday and another live football match from the SPFL, this time Perth where St Johnstone host Motherwell watched by just 2449. I used to listen to Ernie Walker and Jim Farry, thinking they were purveyors of doom and gloom, scaremongering with their warnings of what live television would do to attendances and gates in Scotland.

‘Rubbish’ was my immediate response, naively believing that the true supporter would always turn up. I just didn’t think that the ‘true supporter’ of Scottish football would eventually sit in his living room more than any grandstand, and pick up a remote control before tickets or a scarf.

But hey, a lot of thought went into this ‘successful’ SPFL model, so let’s not be too quick to knock it. At least give it until February …

Monday
This would be the morning after the night before out in India where some of the sponsors potion might well be needed after Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel clinched his fourth consecutive world title with victory in the Indian Grand Prix, a feat previously on achieved by legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.

Indian Grand Prix (Pic from Vimeo)

Indian Grand Prix
(Pic from Vimeo)

The win was Vettel’s sixth in succession, 10th in total this year and he could yet match Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a single season.

Yet, just as in Belgium, Canada and Singapore, Vettel found his success greeted by jeering and boos, much to the upset of the 26-year-old German.

Unfortunately, brilliant as he and his car might be, like Schumacher before him Vettel is blamed by many for turning F1 into a nothing more than a glitzy, hugely expensive procession, and a great many have just become bored with Grand Pri-zzzzzzzzzzz …

Tuesday
The first League Cup quarter-final is played out in the Highland capital when Inverness Caley Thistle beat Dundee United 2-1 although that appeared to be the least significant action on the night.

Nadir Ciftci

Nadir Ciftci

United had ended the game with ten men after striker Nadir Ciftci had been sent off during a mass brawl. On seeing a replay of his offence – which was near impossible to miss on the TV footage – I commented that such actions (grabbing across an opponents face) in rugby would result in a 16-week ban.

Not according to some on Twitter, who took great exception to the press (and my) witch hunt against Ciftci, with near-fanatical claims of his innocence and that it was no more than ‘handbags.’ What those United fans, defending the indefensible, were not aware of (and to be honest I had only heard whispers of) was that in addition to his sending off for violent conduct, the Turkish striker had also been accused of excessive misconduct for allegedly “seizing” assistant referee Gavin Harris – by the throat.

So rather than just a three-match ban, Ciftci could indeed face a 16-game suspension from the SFA. I’ve tried my best. But it is difficult to underplay the severity of a player trying to throttle a match official and a potential 16-match ban, although I suppose you could categorise it as simply ‘muckle great handbags …’

Wednesday
Boston Red Sox win the World Series. We’re talking baseball here and no, you can’t be out for hitting the ball in to the neighbours garden.

Boston Red Sox LogoI doubt there has been a more hirsute team ever to win a world title – possibly with the exception of the Saudi Arabian side that won the 1989 under-17 World Cup – than the Red Sox, with ‘beards that even the Taliban might admire.’ Not my words but those of PJ Crowley, former US Assistant Secretary of State!

The Red Sox 6-1 Series clinching win over the St Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park was watched by owner John W.Henry, who had seen his franchise go from worst to first in a season. Henry, as you may know, also owns Liverpool. So no pressure on you now, Brendan Rodgers. This week The Arsenal, next week, the World …

Thursday
We live in a litigious society, bombarded by adverts and promises of how to lodge successful claims for tripping, falling, and in the case of TV presenter Andrew Castle, putting yourself in danger by making such adverts while walking around someone operating a lathe without safety glasses on. Tut tut Andy.

Alex Cisak

Alex Cisak

I can only think one of these adverts popped up on the screen one evening when Burnley ‘keeper Alex Cisak was watching. Cisak was injured five years ago while playing for Leicester City’s youth team, breaking his wrist. It was Cisak’s claim that Dr Bhaskar Bhowal allowed him to resume training before his wrist fracture had fully healed – a claim denied by the surgeon.

So Cisak decided to sue the surgeon claiming he had been left in pain after an operation on his wrist. Indeed the High Court was told that the goalie could only save a handful of shots before pain returned and that he was ‘predominantly using his left arm.’ Another satisfied plaintiff. Or not quite.

Barrister John Whitting QC, acting on behalf of the Leicester Hospital surgeon, offered evidence in the form of an unbiased and accurate match report that described Cisak as “agile” and “smart”. Whittling stated: “It is difficult to see how a goalkeeper playing at an extremely high level can get rave reviews if he could only use one arm,” at which point the full-time whistle sounded on Cisak’s case, the goalkeeper withdrawing his claim though he must pay the surgeon’s costs.

Who says newspaper football reports are not accurate evidence?

Friday

Pat Fenlon Picture from Wikipedia

Pat Fenlon
Picture from Wikipedia

After that midweek League Cup loss to Hearts it was only a matter of time before Pat Fenlon parted company with Hibs. What few expected was that it would be a double-departure day with James Traynor, Rangers Communications Director, leaving Ibrox.

It gives me no pleasure to say ‘told you so,’ but I couldn’t see him lasting a year in that role, especially having visited Jim in his bunker beneath the Govan Stand. It was a job fraught with difficulty, made all the more troublesome by those who had actually given him the job in the first place.

Still, better out of it probably. I mean Rangers, not journalism … I think ….

A Royal Charter – an unusual method used by Westminster to regulate the press
(Picture: Creative Commons)

So – a Royal Charter on press regulation has been passed by the Privy Council!

The impression one is left with when reading the reactions of assorted newspapers is that what we have now is not the kind of system which Lord Levenson had envisaged. Instead, it looks as though the country’s newspaper publishers our intent on pressing ahead with setting up a regulatory system of their own.

The-Times-logoThe result could well be, as The Times explained in a leader, that press regulation would become “a Mexican stand-off in which no authority is recognised. Or that two parallel systems will run, one with the imprimatur of a Royal Charter and one without. Either way, it is a mess entirely of the making of a political class that seeks control of an unruly press.”

Other newspapers have already expressed their seeming contempt for the new system – one which certainly can’t be described as a new law. The editor of the Daily Telegraph, for example, expressed his dismay at the way the government had insisted on using a Royal Charter as a method of regulating the press. His initial views were expressed on Twitter. You can almost hear the sarcasm in his voice when he wrote “well done everyone involved in the Royal Charter. Chances of us signing up for state interference: zero.”

European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

What seems certain is that several of the newspapers are likely to test the authority of any new regulator. Some have already indicated that they would not accept his decisions, choosing instead to challenge them in the courts, appealing all the way to Strasbourg if necessary.

The curious thing about this new system of press regulation is that there is no compulsion involved. Media organisations are free to sign up – or alternatively they can stay outside of the system. However, there are already new laws in place which the government believes will prove an incentive, laws under which the courts treat publishers differently depending on whether they are on the regulator’s list or not. Those which choose not to sign up under the Royal Charter run the risk of exemplary damages if they lose a case and, more controversially, they may have to pay a complainant’s costs even if the judgement is in the newspaper’s favour.

So how could that affect the Caledonian Mercury? To some extent, that depends on how we are perceived. Are we for instance a newspaper or a blog? The latter only are considered to be “relevant publishers” if they have an annual turnover of £2 million and at least 10 employees. The Caledonian Mercury meets neither of these criteria. However, a website which contains “news related material”, has more than one author and is perceived as a commercial operation may well be caught under the new system. The result is that we really don’t know if we will be affected or not.

pccThere’s something else which could prove to be a worry. The Royal Charter has shifted the goalposts when it comes to deciding who may be entitled to complain about a story. Under the old system, only people directly affected could complain to the Press Complaints Commission. Now however, third parties “seeking to ensure accuracy of published information” will also be entitled to raise a complaint. The trouble is that people lodging such complaints won’t be charged for doing so. It raises the spectre of anyone with a grievance using the system in ways which could be damaging. And since the costs will be born by the publication, there must surely be a concern that the new system could be used by someone working for one organisation to effectively close down a rival simply by lodging a spurious complaint.

The UK (and that includes Scotland) already has tough laws under which the press must operate. We may not share many of the opinions of the former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan – but he told the Today program on Radio Four that Britain had “some of the most draconian laws, both civil and criminal, against newspapers, journalists and editors anywhere in the world. The idea of you know need more is ridiculous.”

If the new system had been a complete reform of everything to do with the media – including sections which enshrined the freedom of the press – then that would probably have been acceptable to most people. What we now face may well be decades of conflict and confusion over how the media should best be regulated and that is in no one’s interest.

Young, inexperienced drivers are most at risk

The road safety charity, IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists), has called on the Conservative party to publish its much promised Green Paper on young drivers as soon as possible. Just a few days ago, the latest figures on road deaths were published which showed that 130 young drivers were killed last year. This makes road accidents the biggest killer of young people in the UK today.

Josie Pearce MBE Injured in a crash at 19 (from Twitter)

Josie Pearce MBE
Injured in a crash at 19
(from Twitter)

Its director of policy and research, Neil Greig, stressed that the UK had “the safest roads in the world but with so many crashes involving new drivers, there is a clear urgency for the government to address the issues young people face on the roads. We must all do our bit to assist and make sure our road users are safe. A Green Paper is a once in a generation opportunity to refresh our system of learning to drive and deliver long lasting benefits in road safety for all.” Any delay in a review of our learner driver system, he added, means that more young licence holders will die on the roads.

His appeal comes a short time after it was confirmed that a Paralympic gold medallist will front a week-long road safety campaign. Josie Pearson MBE, who won gold in the discus in the 2012 Paralympic Games with a world record distance, was paralysed in a young driver car accident when she was just 19. Now she has thrown her support behind Goodyear’s Young Driver Education Week, a national awareness campaign to spread the word on encouraging earlier young driver education.

“After my accident,” she said, “obviously this whole issue is something very close to my heart and I hope Young Driver Education Week will not only raise questions about how we teach our youngsters but also offer a possible solution.”

Royal Birkdale – home of this year’s British Seniors Open
Pic: VisitBritain (Creative Commons)

Saturday
For many, Saturday morning is spent disposing of the mess from the night before.

Steve Elkington Think before you Tweet

Steve Elkington
Think before you Tweet

However, not too many could have expected a major clear-up operation to be taking place at Royal Birkdale, home this week to the British Senior Open, after Australian golfer Steve Elkington decided to vent his feelings about Southport on Twitter. Elkington thumbed; “Things about Southport England … -fat tattooed guy -fat tattooed girl -trash -ice cream stored guy -Pakistani robber guy -shit food” Just to help his case, he then Tweeted on Saturday; “Couple of caddies got rolled by some Pakkis. Bad night for them.”

His comments were considered racist by most, foolish by many. Needless to say, explanations and excuses were quickly offered, though not entirely believed. Lee Westwood asked on Twitter; “I know it’s Friday night but how much has elk had to drink?”

I hope he had none. I’d hate him to have any excuse for what he said …

Sunday
In recent weeks Sunday’s have seen some memorable sporting finishes and conclusions. I’m thinking here of Wimbledon, the Tour de France, The Open and the cricket, not to mention the odd Grand Prix. The British Senior Open just had to get in on the act as well, with its own memorable finale. Actually, better make the memorable for the wrong reasons.

Long-time leader Bernhard Langer came a cropper at the 72nd hole, dropping two shots and allowing Mark Wiebe to force a play off. With play having been suspended twice during the final round because of rain and lightening, the tournament was already running late. But organisers decided to press on for a finish. This was perhaps not the best decision ever made, and one likely to end in farce, given that before Langer and Wiebe had even got near the tee, my erstwhile colleague Euan McLean of the Sunday Mail noted that until now, he didn’t realise golf buggies had headlights!

Gary McAllister,   Derek Rae  and Darrell Currie at Hampden. Need for a caption competition

Gary McAllister, Derek Rae and Darrell Currie at Hampden. Need for a caption competition

Not surprisingly, after two additional holes and in near-dark, play was halted, with Wiebe clinching the title the next morning after the fifth extra hole – and after another PR disaster for golf …

Monday
There really should have been a caption competition and a prize to be had when former Scotland skipper Gary McAllister, commentator Derek Rae and presenter Darrell Currie attended Hampden for the launch of BT Sport’s SPFL coverage this season. I do wonder if Rae, given where he hails from, had his hand down the back of the couch to see if there was any loose change …

Tuesday
Talking of money, it seems Neil Lennon is a wee tad peeved that Celtic are being asked to pay over the odds when they go shopping for players.

Celtic Logo“With the money that we’ve brought in for Gary (Hooper) and Victor (Wanyama) sometimes the price all of a sudden seems to rise a bit,” said Lennon after paying around £3m for Ajax winger Derk Boerrigter.

As I said to Mike Graham on talkSPORT’s Extra Time, I couldn’t recall Celtic giving Southampton or Norwich City a discount on Wanyama and Hooper.

But then, regardless of what Celtic have in terms of usable cash, maybe clubs across Europe have wised up to the Parkhead club’s business model of buy players cheap, then selling them at a healthy profit.

Now, I am trying desperately to remember who it was who pointed out that strategy to everyone …

Wednesday
According to one report, half the clubs within Scotland’s all-new Premiership are reporting increased season ticket sales. I’m not sure about the terms and conditions, but will there be a rebate should any clubs be liquidated part-way through the season?

Just asking …

Thursday
St johnstone FCWell done to St Johnstone for recording a great away win over FC Minsk in their Europe League qualifying tie. Playing in Europe is nothing new for the Saints, but I just hope they don’t get ahead of themselves as they did in the early 70′s when they considered a name change to SJ Perth to fit in with their new-found European status.

Maybe, just maybe, after the final in Turin. That’s in Italy, for those who haven’t been beyond Norway or Belarus …

Friday
Many will have woken up to the sad news that Colin McAdam had died, aged 61.

McAdam will forever have is place in Scottish football history having been the first player to have his transfer decided by tribunal when he moved from Partick Thistle to Rangers. Rangers offered £80.000. The Jags wanted £500,000. Lord Wheatley, Scottish League President Tom Lauchlan and SPFA secretary Harry Lawrie decided to meet in the middle – and McAdam moved for £165,000.

It was never, ever enough for Thistle fans. Neither would any supporter think 61 was ever enough either!

Is it a question of too-little, too-late? The social network Twitter has confirmed that it is ‘testing’ ways to make it simpler for users to report abuse. Thousands of people signed a petition demanding change – there were even calls for a Twitter ‘boycott’ – after it came under fire for failing to react quickly enough after the rape threats made against Caroline Criado-Perez, the campaigner who called for more women on bank notes.

Ms Criado-Perez was shocked by the flood of online threats in the hours after the Bank of England announced that future £10 notes would include a portrait of the author Jane Austen. She quickly involved the police who arrested a 21-year-old in Manchester on suspicion of harassment offences.

Labour MP Stella Creasy Also a victim of abuse

Labour MP Stella Creasy
Also a victim of abuse

To compound matters, the abuse didn’t just affect Caroline Criado-Perez herself. Several of the high-profile women who came out to condemn the attacks found themselves victims as well. They included MPs, such as Stella Creasy – the MP for Walthamstow – and Claire Perry – the member for Devizes – who’s been advising the Prime Minister on measures to tackle the spread of extreme pornography. Detectives are investigating both cases.

However, it was the stunning silence from Twitter itself, at least in the beginning, which concerns many people. The incident has threatened to become a PR disaster for the business with celebrities expressing their disgust at what had happened and saying they might even close their accounts. As comedian Dara O’Brianin wrote on his own Twitter account, “If the ladies leave twitter because of all the dumb, rapey 14 year old boys, then I’m outta here people. Like most grown-up men too, I’d say”

There have been reports that senior officers from Twitter have offered to meet Ms Criado-Perez and MPs to discuss the way forward. The network has also confirmed plans to include a “report abuse” button, saying that this was already available on iPhone and would be available on Android and desktops shortly.

Twitter however finds itself between a rock and a hard place. If it fails to act, it will face the opprobrium of thousands – if not millions – of current users, many of whom may simply walk away from the social network in disgust. But on the other hand with an estimated 400m tweets a day, a “report abuse” button would take a huge effort to monitor effectively. As the Telegraph’s chief technology columnist, Mic Wright, has warned, a “Report Abuse” button could allow “any armchair activist to make a vague stand without putting in any time, effort or thought.” Sorting such “vague stands” from real abuse will cost a lot of time, effort and money. But for Twitter, it may be a price worth paying.

<em>Picture: Sanjiva</em>

Picture: Sanjiva

By Stewart Weir

Saturday
Tensions were high ahead of the Manchester United–Liverpool clash for reasons that are known to everyone.

But no one saw what came before a ball was kicked, namely Luis Suárez refusing to shake the hand of Patrice Evra, the victim of the Uruguayan’s “lost in translation” jibe that earned him an eight-match FA ban and public ridicule in abundance.

Suárez wasn’t alone in being on the receiving end of people’s ire. His team manager, Kenny Dalglish, had painted himself into a corner on his stance, seen by the vast majority of football folk as constantly defending the indefensible.

So when Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves decided to tackle Dalglish on the matter of Suárez, the Scot was at his prickly best.

Dalglish claimed not to have seen the non-handshake, hadn’t been told about the non-handshake, and not to be aware of trouble in the tunnel. He fell short of denying he’d been at the game.

Dalglish was rattled, probably because (as we found out later) Suárez hadn’t followed his promise to shake the hand of the wronged and innocent. But again, because he couldn’t blame his player, so Dalglish turned on Shreeves and Sky.

“See when we had the FA Cup tie, right, because there wasn’t a 24-hour news channel in the buildup to the game [ITV were the broadcasters] nothing like this happened,” said the Liverpool boss.

Which is probably true, and would have carried more clout had it not been for the fact that Dalglish never mentioned such things when his wee lassie was employed there …

Sunday
If Dalglish had thought his day was done on Saturday evening, then Match of the Day whipped up the firestorm further by broadcasting the Shreeves interview.

However, you could tell by Alan Hansen’s comments that there was about to be a complete turnaround on Liverpool’s stance on this entire affair.

Dalglish probably dined on humble pie for Sunday lunch, because by the afternoon he, Liverpool’s executive management, and Suárez were issuing full-scale apologies.

It must have been humbling, even humiliating for Dalglish, who had to make his retreat after fighting the stupid Suárez’s corner yet again live to the nation.

He was wrong. And when the story appeared in the USA’s national newspapers, Liverpool’s owners were quick to tell him how wrong he had been.

The statement of apology was contrite and more than sufficient to draw a line under this entire messy, sorry affair once and for all.

But just what bearing this will have on Dalglish’s standing as the current Liverpool manager remains to be seen. Put it this way: it might take more than a League Cup to get his paymasters back onside again.

Monday
What everyone knew was a possibility became a reality with Rangers taking the first steps to administration.

For Rangers fans the world over, this was there Kennedy moment. And we are not talking Andy or Stewart here. They will remember exactly where they were, when and how they heard the news.

And thinking about it, there are certain similarities and conspiracies around Rangers being cut down, just as there was with Kennedy.

Was the visible culprit just some patsy who been set up? And was there some Teflon Don in the background who’d escaped untouched?

Time will tell – or maybe not.

Tuesday
There wasn’t another story in town today, either, with Rangers dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

But there were some little nuggets to be found. If the trust of the Gers supporters had been taken for granted, then they found themselves in good company.

England fans were less that chuffed to find out that after just eight games, the FA announced a change to the England home kit.

Debuted against Bulgaria in September 2010, it was most recently worn for the Euro 2012 qualifiers in a friendly match against Sweden at Wembley in November, a rip-off given that a kit costs £90, and as much as £70 for a child replica strip.

At least league clubs tend to keep their home kit for two seasons, which might amount to 60 or 70 matches.

Or, if you have come into close contact with some individuals, one machine wash …

Wednesday
Rangers, you’ve guessed it, are still making the news. So, if you looked hard enough, was Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan.

It appears as if he has left some of his counterparts south of the border somewhat bemused as to why he feels It necessary to comment of matters of an English nature – namely, advising mediation between Liverpool and Manchester United to avoid further issues in the future.

Twitter is a great communication tool, when used properly. But say too much, and you leave yourself wide open.

Like when Mr Regan was quick to tell the world what a great start David Goodwillie had made to his Blackburn Rovers career with a goal in the League Cup. Needless to say, there haven’t been too many Goodwillie tweets since.

He isn’t the first bod within the SFA to have people question his tweets. A few weeks ago a communications expert within Hampden ended up issuing a painful (some would say grovelling) apology – on Twitter (in six takes) – after overstepping the mark with his “personal” thoughts on Motherwell FC.

Maybe he has realised that you don’t have personal thoughts when you are employed by a governing body, and have to be seen towing the party line.

All of which makes me wonder how administrators can pass judgment on what players can and cannot say on Twitter or through other social media networks when they can’t get it quite right themselves …

Thursday
It was the day when the two men at the heart of the biggest story in the nation gave their take on what could possible divide Scotland.

Not Alex Salmond and David Cameron (now confirmed supporters of Rangers), but Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, the administrators now in charge of the Ibrox club.

Thursday’s news conference was their first announcement on what was happening, and on what might happen at Rangers. But in the end they threw up more questions than answers. Like where was the £24.4 million from Ticketus?

And, at the death, “Is Craig Whyte taking this club for a ride?” – or words to that effect. Like an administrator is going to answer that. Stupid boy …

The day finished with questions on Scotland Tonight, STV’s late-evening topical debate and news forum. Can you tell I’ve written marketing bumph?

Rona Dougall was this time joined by Sir Michael Kelly, former Celtic director, and Matt McGlone, Celtic fan, voice, talking head, and a long-time critic of the Parkhead regime Kelly was part of.

So instead of debating Celtic and whether they needed Rangers, we ended having an argument over sins of the past and the 1994 Coup in Paradise.

Celtic fan against Celtic fan, arguing about Celtic.

Maybe not as the programme was billed in the TV Times. Sometimes, don’t you just wish the night closed with Late Call

Friday
And we’ll end with, shock horror, Rangers.

Saturday’s game is a sell-out. The Rangers loyal will turn out in force to see their side against Kilmarnock – many it has to be said, just in case they disappear next week.

And they are taking their kids as well, just so they can see the mighty Gers in their current, possibly final state. That’s what real support is about.

Pity they couldn’t have done the same for the cup-tie against Dundee United a couple of weeks ago. But then, it was on the telly and the HMRC didn’t exist …

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz

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qatar1Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, was forced to apologise today after party workers created a poster depicting Alex Salmond in Arab dress.

Mr Rennie said he was very embarrassed by the actions of Lib Dem workers who had been trying to draw attention to the first minister’s decision to compare Scotland with Qatar while on a tour of the Gulf states.

The poster, which went out on the Scottish Lib Dems Twitter feed, stated: “Salmond hails ‘similarities’ between Qatar and Scotland. A glimpse into Salmond’s independent Scotland perhaps?”

Underneath the headline was a mocked-up picture of Mr Salmond wearing Arab dress and walking a camel through the desert.

Alongside were three bullet points: “Absolute monarchy controls all aspects of life; Gay rights suppressed and no legal recognition of same sex marriage; Death penalty used for crimes against the state.”

It was finished with the question: “Mr Salmond’s independent Scotland?”

Mr Rennie was quick to disown the poster, make sure it was removed from the web and to apologise publicly for the mock-up.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Rennie said: “I apologise for the offence that has clearly been caused by the cartoon on the first minister’s remarks in Qatar. Although I did not approve its publication, I take responsibility for it. It has been interpreted in ways that were not intended. It has now been withdrawn. I apologise.”

However, Mr Rennie’s apology for the picture did not stop others from pursuing the more general point – about Scotland’s similarities with Qatar.

Former Labour Downing Street adviser John McTernan tweeted: “Alex Salmond: Scotland is remarkably like Qatar. How? Unelected government? Sharia law? Anti-gay laws? Foreign workers = 85% of population?”

Despite strong objections from others on Twitter, Mr McTernan continued with other tweets through the day defending his position, at one point adding: “I think while the FM be-struts the world he takes the prize for pompous absurdity.”

Mr McTernan even drew a comparison with previous countries which had been linked favourable to Scotland by senior Nationalists in the past, particularly the so-called “Arc of Prosperity” nations Iceland and Ireland.

“Qataris should be very afraid,” he tweeted.

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