Friday, January 26, 2007

Paul Dacre's comments on the BBC

The attack on the BBC from Paul Dacre editor of the Daily Mail is typical right-wing propaganda that the BBC is run by pinkos, liberals and anyone associated with a progressive agenda.

The values of the Daily Mail include being reactionary, nasty, angry, intolerant of minorities along with being deeply unpleasant to anyone who is associated with anything progressive. It fails to see that Britain has changed as a society and yearns for an era that is long gone. With a Labour Government that does push progressive values, it resorts to nasty smear campaigns on a regular basis against Labour politicians along with regularly publishing misleading stories, the Licensing Act being just one of many examples. The paper is gutter journalism at its most extreme. Thankfully, the British public has rejected the values of the Daily Mail for the last three elections and even Cameron understands that the values of the Mail are a vote loser.

In terms of the BBC it's not perfect and the Labour Government have just cause for criticism about how it has covered certain stories like Iraq. On many occasions, I believe that it has not been completely balanced in reporting of stories associated with the Government.

However, it is probably the most respected news channel in the world and the BBC has got a reputation of the top order across the globe. While we may criticize coverage, compared to other stations it is way superior in terms of all round contribution to broadcasting and the range of different programmes broadcast. Without the BBC, TV would be much the poorer. Certainly when I've visited other countries like the USA it makes me glad that we still have the BBC. The website is second to none for news coverage and it by far the best source of news on the web.

While I personally believe in the longer term, a debate is needed on funding in an ever changing media world(I personally support abolishing licence fee), it is an institution that is Britain at its very best. The same cannot be said for the Daily Mail which represents the values of a bygone age that is long gone.

Australia Day thrashing

The cricket tour down under goes from bad to worst, another dismal performance on Australia Day from England and the Australians enjoy a massive win in the one day match with 25 overs to spare. Sadly it seems that the cricketers have given up, even New Zealand find them easy opponents, it just goes from bad to worse. Very depressing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More lighting delays on Donnelly Green

From being optimistic a few weeks ago about the lighting, it seems we've more delays on the lighting issue. Every meeting I attend in Pollards Hill at present, the issue is raised with me the lack of lighting on Donnelly Green, and something needs to happen soon about the matter. My fear is that a serious incident will happen soon if this matter continues and the CCTV that is on the green is useless without the lighting. I hope it does not take something serious for the issue to become a priority. The latest response from the Council is below and I know the Council officers are working on the issue. I will also be tabling a Council question on the matter to the Cabinet member Tariq Ahmad at the Council meeting next week.

We completed the ducting and cabling work mentioned in my previous email, however as we feared once the power was restored a fault developed further along the cable. We are investigating where this failure has occurred and once established we shall replace the cabling here as well. An additional column is now in lighting, and we will endeavour to establish a supply to the remainder as quickly as possible.

I am hopeful that all the work we intend to carry out in this area will be completed within the next 6 weeks, however if we find more significant problems than we have anticipated then it may take a little longer. I will keep you updated on the situation as things develop.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A dusting of snow and it causes chaos!

It never ceases to amaze me that the a light dusting of snow always seems to cause chaos on the transport system. This morning it took me 90 minutes to reach work including a trip on the Victoria Line which took 30 minutes instead of the usual 10. Apparently it was caused by frozen points, this is despite nearly all the Vitoria Line being in tunnels with only the depot not being underground.

The railway of course had delays today, this is not surprising given that every day brings a new excuse and I suppose the cold weather was the excuse of the day. Being a long-time commuter and living in London you get to accept it as part of life, regrettable but true.

Many other countries seem to have none of these problems despite having snow on a regular basis and experience falls many times the amount experienced in London overnight. Given that it was forecast a few days ago you think they would've been prepared, I know snow is a rarity but it is hardly the first time it has happened and it is not exactly a new phenomenon!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Now it's down to five

Great to see Livepool beat Chelsea for the first time in the Premiership since Muriniho took over as Chelsea manager. What a great goal as well from Jermaine Pennant on his 23rd Birthday who is improving as a player all the time. If Crouch had converted many of his missed chances it may have even been a bigger victory. It all seems to be going wrong for Chelsea, the form of the previous season is gone and give their injury problems in defence they also seem to be leaking goals galore. How they must wish that John Terry comes back to full fitness.

If Manchester United win tommorrow it will effectively be all over for Chelsea in the Premiership(I predict a draw against Arsenal). I've no doubt that Liverpool can take advantage of Chelsea's problems and claim second place in the Premiership this season. With Liverpool now having an enforced break as they are out of the Cup, we can also focus more on the Premiership and Champions League.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Big Brother racism

While I've not seen too much of the current series of Celebrity Big Brother, the behaviour of some of the contestants against Shilpa is another short of disgraceful and a shame on British Television.

What I also find reprehensible is the attitude of Channel 4 towards what has happened, that this kind of behaviour has been tolerated by them is appalling, at the very least the perpetrators would've been thrown out.

Sadly the race to chase the ratings has overtaken commonsense(not surprising given that they apparently have had a 30% rise in ratings) and given the media furore it has given Channel 4 a huge amount of free publicity.

I hope OFCOM impose heavy sanctions against Channel 4, the number of complaints is extraordinary and they clearly must impose a punishment that will act as deterrent against Channel 4 allowing something similar. Racism should not be tolerated in any way, shape of form and it is sad that Celebrity Big Brother has degenerated into a programme that seemingly encourages racism.

Finally, I do hope that it puts a nail in the coffin of the career of Jade Goody along with her bigoted family, she lived off her appearance in Big Brother and hopefully it will also prove her downfall.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Premier hails Mitcham Academy 'Revolution'

Good news about the local schools!

Premier hails Mitcham Academy 'Revolution'

At Prime Minister's Questions today, Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh asked Prime Minister Tony Blair about progress at local high schools St Mark's Church of England Academy and Harris Academy Merton. This follows the news that both schools are oversubscribed with applications from parents wishing their children to attend the schools.

Last year, the schools the Academies replaced received only 132 first choice applications for the 480 places available, and had over 900 surplus places.

The exchange took place just after noon today in Parliament.

Siobhain said:

"Despite only having just entered their second term since opening, the two new city academies in my constituency will be oversubscribed next year because such is the support of local parents and the community. Will he join me in congratulating the parents, teachers and staff at these schools and their enlightened sponsors, the Church of England and Lord Harris of Peckham."

Tony Blair replied:

"I am delighted to join in congratulations to the schools and to the sponsors, who have put so much hard work into the City Academy programme."

"As the results show, there is a revolution going on in our schools at the moment, of which the City Academy programme is an important part. They are delivering quality education to some of the poorest kids in our country."

Following the exchange, Siobhain added:

"I am very proud that we battled to get these Academies. Even though the Tories spent months trying to put a stop to them, and we even had to go to court to get them opened, parents clearly think they were worth fighting for. Good schools shouldn't just be for the rich part of the borough. Mitcham's Academies will help us raise educational standards across the whole social spectrum."

Councillors blast 'High Tax Tories' for saying Council Tax levels "not important"

An update following the Way We Work Panel that I chaired last night.

Councillors on Merton Council's Way We Work scrutiny panel have thrown out Tory plans to remove Council Tax targets, and have criticised the new administration for describing levels of local taxation as "not important". They met in the wake of the announcement the Conservative administration plans to raise Council Tax by more than inflation (3.6%) in 2007/8.

The new Tory-led Cabinet had intended to remove a target that Merton should have one of London's lowest Council Tax levels, as they claimed it was "not important". The Way We Work panel has recommended that the target is reinstated, and have referred their decision to the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Commission. The decision could then be referred back to the Cabinet for reconsideration.

The Panel has also rejected Conservative plans to increase the charges it makes to schools, colleges and community groups for using Merton's payroll services by £80,000. Councillors said schools should not suffer because of the financial mess the Council has got into since May last year.

The panel was chaired by Cllr Martin Whelton. He said:

"There was a very spirited discussion, and we decided by a clear majority to aim for low taxes in comparison to other Councils. I hope the decision is upheld by future Council meetings, and that we throw out the Conservatives' high tax plans."

The Way We Work panel member Cllr Mark Allison said:

"The Tories aren't up to the job and their financial blundering means we can expect high Council Tax rises from now on."

"I am angry the Tories have said that's "not important". We need to keep the previous Labour administration's long term targets to have one of London's lowest Council taxes."

Cllr Mark Betteridge, another panel member added:

"Passing on the costs of the Cabinet's failure to schools and voluntary groups is not right. We don't think they should be penalised."

Barack Obama, the next US President?

With the entry into the 2008 US Presidential race of Barck Obama we've potentially a new star in the making and one who in my view is a very good tip for the White House.

Since becoming a US Senator in 2005, he has been growing in stature as a politician and one that could enlighten the whole US political world and become the first black US President.

In terms of the Democratic nomination, I hold by my view that Hillary Clinton is a divider, while I've immense respect for her along with her work, I do not believe she is the right candidate for President and a divisive figure who will divide America and potentially lead to a Republican being elected again.

Like Bill Clinton in has 1992, Obama is an unknown and from been a rank outsider only a year ago he has been gradually gaining name recognition and has none of the baggage that many of the other potential candidates. With his chrastimatic style he has the potential to win over many in America.

Time will tell whether I'm right about him, I tipped Howard Dean back in 2003 to be US Democrat presidential nominee and his campaign ended up self-destructing. The same could happen Barack but I'm optimistic that he'll win and hopefully go on to be President of the United States and repair the immense damage done by eight years of George Busha.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Andy Murray in blistering form

Having only lost one game in his first round match and nearly becoming the first player in forty years to complete a 6-0 three set whitewash at the Australian Open. This is a player who will continue his rise through the rankings in 2007.

I tipped Andy Murray to reach a Grand Slam Final this year and if he keeps up this form I will hopefully be proved right. This was only the first round but we'll be hearing a great deal more about Andy Murray over the next year.

Overview and Commission Meeting call in successful

At Monday night Overview and Scrutiny Commission, the call-in was successful on Housing decisions in relation to Ravensbury Garages and Merton Road. This followed a call-in by Labour copuncillors on the decesion made by Cabinet on 18th December.

A full report will follow on the matter, but it was a very revealing meeting especially the thinking behind the current policy on affordable housing in Merton.

The issue will now go back to Cabinet for re-consideration.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pressure brings free ATM to Pollards Hill

Delighted at the news that Pollards Hill may get a free cash machine following pressure from the the local MP Siobhain Mc Donagh and the local councillors. Currently the nearest cash machine which does not charge a fee is over a mile away, with Pollards Hill containing areas with some of the highest deprivation statistics in Merton this is very welcome news.

However we'll continue to keep the pressure up to ensure it becomes a reality and that the promise is more then hype.

Below is the article in the Wimbledon Guardian.

Pressure brings free ATM
By Diana Pilkington
A free cash machine could be installed in Pollards Hill within six months following pressure from the local MP and community groups.

Residents using ATMs in the area are currently charged £1.75 every time they take money out even if it is to make the minimum withdrawal of £10.

Cash machine operator Link had announced it would introduce 600 free ATMs into low income areas, but was originally not planning to do so in Pollards Hill because free machines were already available within a 1km radius.

But Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh urged Link to rethink the situation and install a new ATM in the heart of the area in South Lodge Avenue. She said a walk from Pollards Hill to the nearest machine actually takes half-an-hour and involves crossing Mitcham Common.

Link has now agreed that Pollards Hill is a suitable area to introduce a free cash machine. A spokesman for the company said: "When we were originally designating suitable areas, it was a desk-based exercise which didn't allow for obstacles like Mitcham Common. We will now be writing to banks and post offices to say the site has been added to the list of target areas and they will get an additional subsidy if an ATM is installed there."

If a free machine is installed, the process is likely to take six months, allowing for time to find a suitable location and get planning permission.

Ms McDonagh said: "We'd like to congratulate the local community, especially the Commonside Development Trust, which has been campaigning for an ATM for some time.

"I'm pleased our concerns have been listened to.

"People in Pollards Hill shouldn't have to pay to get their own money. The sooner we get this ATM the better."

Naomi Martin, of Commonside Development Trust, echoed the sentiment and said: "This is great news for people in Pollards Hill. Many people around here are on low incomes and only take out a small amount of money at a time so a no-charge ATM will really help them to make their money go further.

"The trust is looking forward getting the machine in place as soon as possible, and to working with partners from the banking and financial sector to promote financial literacy in the local area.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Beckham off to Hollywood

Well the transformation is complete with Beckham off to the land of Hollywood to seek fame and further fortune in the States, along with his publicity mad missus. In a way it is a sign that he is over the hill, OK the money is attractive but given that he is extremely wealthy individual already, whatever can be the motivation to play football in a country(or shall I say soccer) where it is very much a secondary sport(except if you're female). Maybe he sees himself as the next big film star(some hope) or Posh relaunching her music career(she makes the Cheeky Girls seem talented).

For many years he has been on the decline as a footballer, indeed Ferguson realised this when he booted him out of United. His performances for England have been abysmal over the past few years and the best decision the McClaren ever made was getting shot of him along with his PR entourage.

Everything has revolved around Brand Beckham, in his prime he was a fantastic footballer sadly he is a shadow of his former self, if he had come back to England it would've been to a second-tier team and at a very high price. For the last few years he has become image obsessed. While most footballer just knuckled down and get on with it, life just seemed to be one big party.

Of course all the glitz and glamour of LA will suit him down to the ground and playing in a non-entity league where the standard of football is probably less then the Coca-Cola League means he will probably be seen as a better footballer then he is at present. Just as long as he does not get an England recall.

Donnelly Green lighting update

At last some progress from the Council over the lighting on Donnelly Green in my ward of Pollards Hill after numerous e-mails and complaints from local residents and local ward councillors Zenia Jamison, Richard Williams and myself for over six months. Further information is below in an e-mail received from the Council and I'm also glad that responsibility is being moved for the lighting from leisure to highways.

The ducting and cabling work is being undertaken at the end of this week and will take about a week to complete. Once completed, this should rectify the fault in the lights in the footpath adjacent to the community centre. There is the possibility that once the power is restored another fault will develop further along the cable, which may mean not all the lights will work, however if this happens then we will replace the affected section.

We have been discussing how best the lights can be managed in the future, and it has been agreed in principle that we in highways will take over the management of the lights from corporate facilities and leisure. We will undertake works now to bring them up to an acceptable standard, which will include replacing a number of lanterns and also providing a new supply to the lights that are currently fed from the library. Once these works are completed the highway street lighting contractor (EDF) will maintain them. This will include checking them every two weeks as part of their nighttime scouting and rectifying any faults found. Generally faults that they find, or that are reported to them, are repaired within 3 days.

Hopefully, the measures I have outlined above will finally provide a solution to this problem, and prevent a similar problem occurring in the future.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2007/08 Merton Budget Papers

In Merton, the minority Conservative administration are now proposing a Council Tax of 3.6% that is above the favoured Government inflation figure of 2.7%. This figure could still increase and further questions will be asked about the figure. With Labour we would have delivered 2.5% rise in Council Tax and given the information within the report this target was more then attainable with the right budget management.

With regard to the financial settlement for 07/08, a telling comment from the Officer Report is in para 3.1 "this has not changed from the amount notified last year as part of the Government's two year announcement". Any of the bleating that has been made by the Tory leader David Williams about the settlement is pretty misleading given that it has been known since November 2005 and the comment from the report proves the point. A letter has also been sent to Phil Woolas, the Local Government Minister about issues surrounding the budget and pressures on the Budget. I doubt it will make much difference and whilst more resources would be welcome, they're unlikely to be forthcoming. I doubt the Tories would spend the extra resources on restoring some of their cuts.

The Council despite budget difficulties have proposed spending an extra £2 million on growth items. The new proposals include spending an extra £5K on a mobile phone masts campaign to bring it under planning legislation. An extra 46K is proposed on a feasibility study to remove Hartfield Bus Lane (my view is either leave it or remove it, spending money on a feasibility studies is a waste of resources) and this bus lane is less then 200 metres.

More spending is proposed to be spent on employing extra officers in planning and transport planning within the Council, given the Councils budgetary problems they equate to an additional £200K, some of these proposals will require very close scrutiny.

An extra £1 million is proposed for spending in Children, Schools and Families, while it includes an extra £120,00 of seven day provision for the most vulnerable children it does not include retaining Bond Road, it is clear that the Children Centres will not be completed by next April. They may help vulnerable children with one hand but take it away with the other.

In terms of other savings the Council will apparently save £1 Million pound through debt restructuring. This involves reducing our debt most of which was built up under the last Tory regime in Merton in the late eighties, that administration ran up massive debts through their borrowings, with interest rates over 10%(some were taken out at 15%) at the time the loans were taken out at rates more then double current interest rates. The Council has paid a considerable cost for their recklessness over the years. During the last Labour administration the amount was reduced considerably which has benefited financially the Council. The amount though it still considerable and is a burden on the Council. The Price Waterhouse report, which recommends further savings does need close scrutiny in terms of the proposals to reduce Debt Management.

Another £1.5 Million is apparently being saved through the review of accounting practices including leasing arrangements and ICT hardware. Again, it will involve refinancing at lower interest rates, unlike the debt-management strategy it is rather lacking in information within the published report.

In terms of single status no mention has been made within the report and further information is awaited on this matter, though the cost will be significant if it is implemented.

All of the proposed Budget will now go to Cabinet tomorrow and onto Scrutiny next week, no doubt many questions will be raised in relation to the proposals in the papers. Many more chapters are still be written before the Budget it's approved on 7th March.

Proposed 07/08 Merton Business Plan

Last night, I received the papers for the Cabinet meeting on Thursday night that will discuss the Business Plan, Budget and the Capital programme for the next year.

The papers should have been published last week but unfortunately I did not receive them until Tuesday night. A special courier service was arranged to deliver the papers (more Council waste). Recently, the Conservative administration seem to publish papers late as a matter of course, while inevitably some papers will be put out late for understandable reasons, it seems to happen very often and I've concerns about papers being published late with no reason being given.

In terms of the Business Plan a number of they proposals have implications.

A proposed change has been made to the indicator for the average number of adults in B&B accommodation and average length of stay of families in hostels. The current figure for B&B is three families with a target of no more then 15 families on average. Along with the average hostel stay this is clearly not a priority for the Tories, no doubt under their housing policies the figures will be going up.

The Percentage of sites surveyed with no litter has been deleted as a target. The abolition is justified on good performance which currently is running at 92%, however the litter issue is something that does not to be monitored to ensure cleanliness, and performance standards remain high. They do not seem to be a priority for the Tories given their lax attitude.

They have scrapped any plans to regenerate Morden; this priority only lasted a very short time and had only been inserted after the Tories came to power. Clearly they do not see improving Morden as a priority any longer.

Following up on recent housing policies, they have also scrapped increasing supported housing options and floating support for vulnerable adults, particularly those with disabilities. This has been replaced by a vaguely worded 'increased support for vulnerable people'.

Opening 8 new Children's centres by March 2008 have been scrapped with no target at all given in the revised business plan. Given that they propose shutting Bond Road in Mitcham on the grounds that they'll be opened, we'll be lucky to see any opened by March 2008. Thankfully the Labour Govt has funded them as otherwise we would've have seen none at all.

All targets relating to answering the phone and responding to complaints within timescales have been scrapped. It is not a priority for improvement; the figures are currently good and improved dramatically under the last Labour administration. Clearly keeping up customer service standards is not a priority.

The indicator for our Council tax ranking has also been deleted with no alternative, after the budget we'll no doubt be climbing up the league table of Council taxes in London.

All in all it makes very interesting reading and no doubt in scrutiny many questions will be asked about the revised plans given the implications they have on the Council.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Return of Michael Vaughan as England Captain

Delighted to hear that Michael Vaughan will be returning to captain the England side for the one day matches. Freddie Flintoff is a brilliant cricketer but captaining the team was not his forte and it will at least allow him to concentrate fully on batting and bowling. Although Vaughan's match fitness may be slightly lacking, if he can inspire and motivate what must be a very de-motivated team after the Ashes whitewash it will be a price worth paying.

With the World Cup coming up this is essential, the one day form of the England team has been pretty abysmal over the past few years and England need to improve dramatically if we are to stand any chance of having a respectable showing at the World Cup. England need some success after the Ashes humiliation.

Death of Magnus Magnusson

I was very sorry to hear about Magnus Magnusson passing away. Mastermind was a show that I watched for many years on Sunday evening and I was an avid viewer. Many of the general knowledge questions knocked me for six and I used to remember having competitions with my brother about who could answer the most, the majority of the time I won.

I've started so I'll finish is what he'll always be remembered for and I felt that TV has lost one of it great presenters with his passing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tariq Ahmad & Sutton Conservative selection

Just heard that Merton Tory Cabinet member Tariq Ahmad was not selected for the neighbouring Liberal Democrat marginal of Sutton and Cheam. Better luck next time, but at least it was a lot closer to Merton then some of the seats he has been seeking selection recently ie Hove, Cheltenham, Hastings, Brighton etc.

No doubt he will get somewhere eventually, but he does not seem to have enjoyed much luck recently in seeking a Parliamentary despite being a member of the Tory A-list.

Warmest ever New York January day

The world of weather just gets stranger, in New York today they set a new record temperature for January, 72 degrees(23 celsius) beating the record by 9 degrees and we are only six days into January.

With this weird weather and our unseasonably mild weather here in London(apart from the incessant rain), it is clear that the world is becoming a warmer place. Having recently watched the Al Gore film 'An Inconvenient Truth', it is clear that global warming is happening and clear evidence exists to prove this point. While I've nothing against warmer days, environmentally it could potentially have a massive effect on the way we live. I would recommend watching this film as I certainly found it very thought provoking.

As a society we've got to face up to these environmental issues that have the potential to cause destruction to the world environment. While George Bush treats the whole matter as joke and does not believe in global warming, at least here the issue is taken a great deal more seriously across political parties. Even the Tories under green Dave have signed up to the agenda though whether it is just hype remains to be seen. Unless governments in other countries take action, many of our measures we implement will be worthless as it has to be a collective action across the world.

With Bush in power in the States and having being bank-rolled in the past by his oil buddies we are unlikely to see much progress, in 2009 we'll hopefully see a US administration prepared to face up to these matters.

If we do not, the consequences could be very grave.

Liverpool relinquish FA Cup

OK, I'm pretty gutted at the result this evening and seeing Liverpool crash out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle. While out second performance was a big improvement, in the first Liverpool just did not deliver and with Tomas Rosicky scoring two great goals in the first half(though Dudek did blunder on both goals), it was always going to be an uphill struggle.

After Kuyt scored, I though we might go on and draw the match, but a spark of brilliance from Thierry Henry put pay to that(and it was a superb goal). The Liverpool fans still sung their heart out as usual but it was just not our night.

My colleague at work Linda is delighted being the avid Arsenal fan she is and I've already had a text from her too gloat about the result, we may have had a bad night tonight Linda but we'll be back and gain our revenge against Arsenal in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

Anyway, we can now focus on the Premiership, Champions League along with the Carling Cup against Arsenal on Tuesday. I still think Liverpool will win the Champions League.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

England Ashes Whitewash

Another test, another defeat. A series that started with high expectations has ended with the first Ashes whitewash since the twenties. The fight seems to have gone out of England and they never recovered from the second test defeat in Adelaide. What started so optimistically has ended in a whimper, the forthcoming one day series is likely to be no better given that are England are even worst at one day matches.

Back to the drawing board again it seems!

Monday, January 01, 2007

10 Sporting Predictions for 2007

Ok, making predictions in the sporting field like politics is never an easy task but I thought I would make a stab at it and making some sporting predictions for 2007. Of course, I'm bound to get some wrong and the first one is probably more optimistic rather then reality, but like anything on the sporting field surprises can happen. In relation to 2 hopefully Liverpool will win the Premiership(very unlikely much as I hate Man U) In the case of 8 and 10, hopefully I'm proven wrong and England undergo a remarkable turn around in form which is highly unlikely given current form.

1) Liverpool to win the Champions League.
2) Manchester United to win the Premiership.
3) Charlton, Watford and Wigan to be relegated from the Premiership.
4) Kimi Raikkonen to win F1 Drivers World Championship.
5) Phil Mickelson to win British Golf Open.
6) Roger Federer to equal Bjorn Borg's five-in-a-row at Wimbledon.
7) Andy Murray to reach a Tennis grad-slam final.
8) India to win the Cricket World Cup.
9) Ireland to win the Six-Nations Rugby.
10) New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup.

Barneveld wins Darts World Championship

Although I watch darts relatively little I have to say that Raymond Barneveld match against Phil Taylor was the best I've ever seen. Looking down and out at one stage with Taylor 3-0 up, Barneveld staged a remarkable come back to win on sudden death at 6 sets all and 5 legs all, it was the darts equivalent of Dennis Taylor winning the World Snooker Championship back in 1985 on the final black.

Phil Taylor is the most remarkable player ever to have played darts with thirteen world titles and I thought he would make it fourteen tonight. The success of Barneveld needs to be commended, he was a rank outsider and triumphed against all the odds. Before winning in sudden death, right to the end I thought Taylor would win especially after Barneveld had three shots at double top to win along with twice having the first throw on three occasions to win. Barneveld certainly kept the audience on tenterhooks throughout the game and it was a superb performance of darts from both players.

A good way to start the New Yearn and hopefully we'll see other great sporting events throughout 2007.