Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!


The People's Republic would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Be prepared for more subversive Second City blogging in the New Year...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Birmingham Born, but not a Hero

Listening to the Ashes is truly depressing (especially on Radio 4 LW where they keep interupting it at 9am every day to bore us with the "highlights" from the previous day at Westminster). There is however some delight in seeing Birmingham-born Andrew Symonds turned-convict giving his wicket away on a regular basis for the Aussies.

Andy Symonds turned down the chance to play for England A so he could be selected for Australia. To show that he is a fair dinkum Aussie he says.

"I had the Baggy Green in my hand a few days ago and smelt it. I love the smell - it smells of sweat and beer."

And traitors.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's Terrorism John, but Not as we Know it

Over the last couple of weeks we have had a man murdered with a radioactive chemical and an attempted terrorist attack on Stormont, the home of the parliament of Northern Ireland. Yet the silence from Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary John Reid has been deafening.

Shall I start a rumour on here now that Islamic terrorist groups were involved? That will ensure a string of government pronouncements and further attacks on our civil liberties and race relations that will last long after Christmas.

If we survive Christmas...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mad Hattersley

I've always had a lot of respect for former Birmingham MP Roy Hattersley, being as he is an unashamed proponent of left wing values and perennial thorn in the side of New Labour. However, this morning on the Heaven and Earth show he made a bit of a fool of himself. Firstly he tried to gain the moral high ground by asking someone who dared to disagree with his position on the new anti-discrimination gay rights laws if she was gay. His face was a picture when she said yes. During this argument, he quoted a statistic from a report in the 1940's which claimed that 12% of the population was gay. Another member of the panel pointed out the this report had been discredited several times since, and the figure was closer to 3% which he then claimed proved his point! Finally, he rubbished the idea that if everyone followed the Catholic churches teachings to the letter, there would be no AIDS but failed to give any indication of why that was such a stupid comment.


It must show my age when I am starting to agree with Tony Blair (yes you read that correctly) that we need to take on conservatives on both sides. Roy is an Old Labour dinosaur who would be eaten alive in the House of Commons today. I do not disagree with everything he says, but perhaps he is a ladder it is time to kick away.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ashes Burnt

I do not really have the enthusiasm for the Ashes this time unlike in 2005. There are several reasons for this:

1) It is in Australia during the middle of the night
2) It is on Sky anyway and the highlights are late
3) The Aussies are on home ground and really fired-up
4) Injuries to Vaughan and Simon Jones means England have a weakened team
5) Our run-in to this series has not been exactly inspiring

It was no surprise to me therefore that the convicts dominated the first day. We need to be more attacking, bringing in Monty Panesar and Chris Read for Ashley Giles and Geraint Jones. We may not win the series, but we'd certainly put it up them.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Saddamed Republicans

On Radio 4 on Sunday I woke up to the following words:

"Today is te 5th November 2006, the day that will go down in history as the day Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death."

Was it a coincidence it happened three days before the US Mid-term elections? Was it a coincidence that the Afghan Elections results were due to come out at a similar time two years ago when Bush was seeking re-election before the UN monitors delayed the announcement? We are told US troops are in these countries for democracy, but whose - theirs or America's?

Anyway, as I write, the Democrats have won the House of Representatives, they are likely to effectively control the Senate and Donald Rumsfeld has left his post as Defence secretary.

Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Problems on Blogger

Apologies for the strange posts/ removal of posts that have been occurring on these pages recently, I am having some problems publishing with blogger that I thought were due to html errors but are actually issues with the blogspot server. At one point I thought it was the end of the People's Republic. You Cockneys won't get rid of us that easily...

Anyway, hopefully normal service will resume soon.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Land of the Free

The links to Electoral-Vote.com on the right-hand side will alert you to the fact that the People's Republic takes a keen interest in major elections on the other side of the pond. As part of Britain, it usually decides our foreign policy. Despite their break with an unelected head-of-state however, you cannot help feeling the American's just do not get democracy.

Take this link. It reminds me off the story of the Bush campaign using pictures of John McCain with his adopted Vietnamese daughter to the same effect in the primaries of 1999 when things were going bad for the President-in-waiting. As the writer of electoral-votes.com points out, normally elections are decided on taxation, education, health and foreign policy - but not in America.

Meanwhile on YouTube VideotheVote.com are among the featured links on the front page. They operated in 2004 with some interesting stories but received little coverage from the mainstream media, leaving it to sites like michaelmoore.com to cover their reports. It will be interesting to see whether YouTube could follow blogs and set the agenda rather than just report it. YouTube has democratised the media, allowing the average man in the street with a camcorder to take on the big corporations whose news fits their agenda. Will it finally break the story of the state-sponsored polling bias in America?

Which brings me onto another link on the right-hand side, 18 Doughty Street. Fed-up with the dumbed down news we receive on the mainstream channels in the UK, a group of bloggers have taken it upon themselves to start their own free internet news channel. I've never watched it (I doubt my computer could take much video streaming) but the People's Republic wishes them well. As far as we are concerned, the more independent sources of news we have, the better.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Birmingham "Most Ready for Disaster"

According to the Reader's Digest Birmingham is the most ready of all the major English cities to cope with a major terrorist attack or disaster. Maybe a little too ready..?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Paul Hunter 1978 - 2006

It seems to be the year for talented young sportsmen dying before their time. After Richard Burns earlier this year, Paul Hunter lost his battle against cancer yesterday a year-and-a-half after being diagnosed. When he first burst onto the scene it seemed obvious to all snooker fans that he was destined to be a world champion, and we al looked forward to some titanic battles between him and Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, and it we are left to ponder on what might have been.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nutters on YouTube 2

These guys really are sad. Get a life.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Nutters on YouTube 1

When I first saw this I thought it might be a new Bin Laden video. The problem with YouTube is it allow any idiot to post films.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Munich Day 5: Olympia, Oktoberfest and English Garden



On our final day on Munich last week we started off by visiting the BMW building and Olympic Park which comprised the Stadium, Swimming Hall, Ice Rink and Olympic Hall. We climbed the Olympic Mountain which gave us a magnificent view of the entire complex. We visited the temporary BMW Museum inside the Olympic Park; BMW World, the new Museum is under construction and will not be completed until 2007. After the mist of the morning the sun came out and we could finally see the top of the Olympic Turn.

From there we hastened to Oktoberfest where we managed to get served inside one of the tents of Lowenbrau, famous in Bavaria for having the worst beer (which tastes like Carling!). From there we had a final beer at the Chinese Turn in the English Garden. We rushed back to the hotel to pick up our bags, and took the underground for the last time to the Airport (via Marienplatz and the S-bahn) where we encountered a surprisingly inefficient German check-in system. Of course, it would not have been a holiday if the plane back had not been overbooked or delayed, but I did manage to make it home just before midnight.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Munich Day 4: Salzburg




The mist in Bavaria scuppered our plans to visit Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain where on a clear day one can see four countries so we instead set off to Salzburg, just across the border in Austria where we were immersed in Mozart and the Sound of Music for the Day. The city is dominated by a fort on the hill above from which you can see the entire old quarter. The sun never stopped shining in the Costa del Salzburg.

We finished the evening back at Augustiner in Munich City Centre were we ate traditional Weisswurst tourist style.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Munich Day 3: Neuschwanstein Castle




On day 3 we took to the road (or the rather more efficient train actually) where up to 5 people could take the regional train to anywhere in Bavaria for only €27. We went to Fuessen, and then took the bus to Hohenshwangau where we took the Royal Tour of Neuschwanstein Catle and it's baby brother Howenshwangau where Ludwig II, the fairytale king, spent his childhood. Neuschwanstein castle is a candidate for one of the seven modern wonders of the world, and the inspiration for Disney's fairytale castle. We got back to Munich late and attempted to get into the English Garden which was unfortunately already closed, so we went back to the Hotel to rest for the next day.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Munich Day 2: Deutches Museum, Glyptothek & Oktoberfest




On day 2 of out tour of Munich, we started off in the biggest science museum in Europe, the Deutches Museum. It had an excellent area on mining in the basement, and apparently has a good planetarium which we unfortunately did not see because we did not have time to get the extra ticket before the 12 O'Clock show started. A walk along the River Isar and back into the old centre was followed by a visit to the Glyptothek, a museum of Greek and Roman artifacts. We then rushed across town to Therensienwiese to experience Oktoberfest where we had to sit outside in the rain as we could find no room in any of the tents. We spoke to a couple of German guys about a variety of topics, and then walked home from the old town back to our hotel through the University district.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Munich Day 1: Hofbrauhaus


A week ago PRoB did a five day tour of Munich and the surrounding areas. I will record here brief highlights of each day including some pictures I took.

On day one, after a delay at Birmingham Airport which meant we had to change planes and fly via Zurich, we finally got to the Hotel around 9pm. A quick tour of the old city was followed by a trip to the city Beergarten of the state brewerey Hofbrauhaus, where we feasted on pretzels and beer.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

iSoft Target

Working for the NHS means unfortunately I have a fair amount of contact with iSoft, the company currently under investingation for accounting irregularities. Yesterday I came across a mousemat from the company with the following strapline (or words to this effect):

"Creating tomorrow's Healthcare solutions today"

Apparently this is also how they report their profits.

Bring Back the Birmingham Mafia

Channel 4 has a piece on its 7 O'Clock news programme this week claiming that the current trouble Blair has were concocted in a West Brom Balti House between Tom Watson, MP for West Brom East, Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr and possibly the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, Gisela Stuart.

If true, this could be the second most significant restaurant meeting in the history of the Labour Leadership - and without a potential Labour leader in site.

Update: Of course Gisela Stuart would not be involved in a plot against Blair. It was the MP for Birmingham Erdington, Sion Simon. Finally, the restaurant was in Wolverhampton, not West Brom. The People's Republic is happy to apologise for any offense caused.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Brumwatch

Why didn't this show get a second series!?

Birmingham by Bus

I cannot really be bothered to blog at the moment and news is a bit thin on the ground anyway. In an attempt to move this blog away from just writing, here is a video from the new net craze YouTube. It is called Broad Street by Bus. Unfortunately I cannot bring you the aroma of cannabis on the top deck, or the litter on the floor, but I know this blog has an international readership and hopefully it will bring back a few memories.

Not all bad hopefully.

Incidentally I have resumed using the buses on my break from work this week after six months of using almost nothing but the car for longer-than-walking-distance journeys. I was amused to see the signs up asking for passengers to smile and say thank you if the driver got you to your destination safely and on time, because "it is not easy being a bus driver".

I know how they felt - on Travel West Midlands, it is not easy being a passenger either.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Talebrum from the Sun

Just as Birmingham became the centre of a new Al-Qaeda terrorist plot (Talebrum was the classic headline from the Sun) my computer packed in to stop me blogging about it.

There is no evidence that this was linked to the plot, or any ongoing police investigations around it.

More likely, it was a dodgy internet connection.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Martin O'Neill in at Villa

After what seems like months Martin O'Neill has been appointed manager of the Second City Superclub with the backing of all potential future investors. The People's Republic believes this could be the turning point in the history of Aston Villa, the point at which they changed from being also rans to a competitive Premiership team. The spreads are offering 45 points for a buy at the moment.

Get your money on now.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Al-Qaeda to Buy Villa?

Apparently a group of Arabs are involved in a fourth bid to take over the club. The People's Republic speculates it could be the Saudi king, the only person in the world who could improve Ellis' amazing record at the club. He's sacked more managers. And contrary to some stories, Cleveland Brown's Randy owner is still interested in buying the club - he just isn't interested in dealing with Ellis.

Is he a former Villa manager?

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Phew! The World Cup series of posts took longer than expected (and I was actually planning to have a round-up of the groups and the progress of each participant which I have now shelved). This is mainly because of a mini-heatwave that is affecting Birmingham (and my computer) at the moment, making it among the hottest places in the country just a week ago. Among the news I have failed to comment on are the sale of Emile Heskey and Jermaine Pennant at Blues, the fact that they are favourites for the Championship in the fortcoming season with Albion second, and an exclusive from West Brom: I have from a reliable source that Mr Robson will have 10 games to turn the fortunes of the club round when the new season starts, otherwise he will be shown the door.

Meanwhile at Villa there are enough rumours going on for an entire article to be devoted to it. In summary, some newspaper reports suggested that Villa players were unhappy at the cost-cutting going on at the club (apparently a physio was not allowed to claim back the price of a cup of airport coffee from the company's expenses, the Villa players had to personally pay a masseuse after the club stopped funding them and a new training facility was scrapped). This story transmogrified into one player egged-on by Mr O'Leary. This led to an investigation and a "parting of company with the club on amicable terms". While the search for a new manager goes on three interested parties are attempting to buy the club: an American called Randy who owns the MBNA brand of credit cards, local Solihull business man Mr Neville, and Sven Goran Eriksson's agent. Maybe we will see Beckham in Brum after all...

Elsewhere in the city the Dubliner pub was burnt down in an apparent arson attack a couple of nights ago. Worldwide, Israel has gone over the top in attacking everything that moves in Lebanon as the result of a couple of soldiers being kidnapped, and as usual America and Britain haven't got the leadership to tell them to stop. Question marks over the Metropolitan Police have resurfaced - ridiculously, no-one will be charge over the Jean Charles de Menezes incident, although the Met will be charge under Health and Safety Legislation (because they shot the wrong man) and a BBC documentary claims a senior policeman involved in the initial investigation of the Stephen Lawrence murder was bribed by a relative of one of the suspects. And we thought the serious crime squad was bent.

Anyway hopefully normal service will soon be resumed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Strikers

Here is where we lost the world cup. We only took four - two who were crocked and one who had never played a Premiership game.

9 Wayne Rooney - Sven had to take him for the unpredictability factor (and as it turned out he was not badly injured anyway). A mistake to play him up front on his own, as he was isolated and his frustration led to him being sent off.

10 Michael Owen - a confidence player who a brave manager would not have been taken - so Sven definitely had him in the squad.

21 Peter Crouch - what is going on with this player - he simply isn't international class. Presumably in the team because he plays for Liverpool, but that in itself is a mystery, particularly as Djibril Cisse, a far superior player, has just be loaned out by the same club. How can you take a striker who failed to score in the first fourteen games for his new club, and then missed a penalty?

23 Theo Walcott - again what is going on? How can you take a player who you have never seen and has never played a Premiership game? Sven clearly panicked after Rooney's injury - but then never had the guts to play him. His inclusion is comparable to Ronaldo in 1994 - the difference being he could remain on the bench for the experience because they had a fit, in form strike force that won the World Cup.

You have got to feel sorry for Darren Bent. Top English scorer in the season and does not get a look in. Jermaine Defoe did not become a bad player in one season. Andy Johnson made a big mistake staying with a Championship club - he certainly is international class but needs the Premiership experience, which he will get this year with Everton

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Midfielders

There are far to many of these:

4. Steven Gerrard. Nothing wrong with this one. Should fit the other players around him.

7. David Beckham. Never a wide-right player, and should not be in the team let alone captain. A case of Sven picking the best players rather than the best team

8. Frank Lampard. A poor world cup. 24 shots (more than anyone else), none hit the back of the net. Cannot play alongside Gerrard (except with a holding midfield player if these two bomb forward, which they didn't).

10. Joe Cole. Excellent World Cup but not a wide-left player. Should have tried him in the Rooney role. Perhaps try in centre in future.

16. Owen Hargreaves. Jury out. Had a good tournament, but even Nicky Butt looked good in the holding midfield role four years ago. Useful in squad due to versatility - and at least he can score a penalty.

17. Jermaine Jenas. Why was he in the squad? He was never going to play, and we should have had a fifth striker instead.

18. Michael Carrick. My choice for the holding midfield role - he can certainly pass the ball.

19. Aaron Lennon. One for the future. Should have taken Beckham's place on merit.

20. Stewart Downing. Should have picked Kieran Richardson in my opinion

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Defenders

Usually the strength of the England team, the defence looked unusually suspect against Sweden particularly on set pieces. However, they didn't concede a goal in the other games so generally it was a case of job done.

2. Gary Neville - not a lot of competition for his right-back role but the United player showed his age missing a couple of games through injury. Certainly justified for selection, and much better than Luke Young who for me, regardless of what the London press say has never done it in an England shirt.

3. Ashley Cole - again undoubtedly first choice, but defensively still suspect.

5. Rio Ferdinand - had an good tournament and cannot question his inclusion

6. John Terry - future captain, and a rock we should build the team around

12. Sol Campbell - some people would have preferred to see Dawson after question marks over the old war-horses mentality, but I would let Eriksson off on the fact that experience is useful in the squad.

14. Wayne Bridge - a case of picking the name rather than the player in form. If I'm correct had an injury hit average season, and Paul Konchesky should have been named ahead of him.

15. Jamie Carragher - definitely one for the squad and arguably a first teamer. Perhaps could fit him in at right-back but has never really performed as well as centre back in that role for his club. Definitely not a holding midfielder.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Goalkeepers

The People's Republic doesn't have a football team, so unfortunately we are stuck with supporting England. A country which once produced the likes of Banks and Shilton between the sticks it appears that we are going through a rather barren spell with the following three stooges.

1. Paul Robinson - before the world cup mine and probably most people's number one choice to wear the gloves. Unfortunately he seems to be training too much with David James, flapping at crosses and generally making bad decisions. Given the dearth of top quality keepers at the moment a good tournament could have given him the goalkeeping jersey for the next ten years. With other managers he may not have lasted the tournament, but luckily his competition was not that fierce.

13. David James - never has been and never will be international class. An excellent shot stopper, but then most keepers are. It is decision making which separates the men from the boys. Probably needed in the squad because of his experience, but that alone is due to the loyalty of the bespectacled one. Surely time to train up another.

22. Robert Green. Had a shocking season with Norwich in the Championship, but unfortunately (for him) was injured before the tournament and replaced with 20-year-old Scott Carson, who doesn't have enough experience. If Chris Kirkland can keep himself fit, he has a great chance of getting into this setup.

But it is a big if.

23 Reasons Why England Failed

The strange thing about Sven is that as an international manager he seems to have got worse. Quarter-Finals against the eventual winners four years ago when we nearly didn't qualify was acceptable. Losing two years ago to the hosts at the same stage was also excusable - but the cracks were beginning to show. Picking the best players not the best team; keeping faith with underperforming big names; going one goal up and trying to hold the match; the wrong substitutions at the wrong time. So it came as quite a surprise when he announced his 23 man squad which from the start looked strange. Over the next few days I will look at his selection and record where he went wrong for posterity.

In any case the mistakes are too numerous for one post.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Azzurri Give Les Bleus the Blues

Congratulations to Italy on their fourth World Cup win - nice to know at least one nation can learn to take penalties. I can now resume blogging again. Watch out for reviews of the tournament in the week ahead and then we can all get ready for the new season.

No rest for the wicked.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup Fever

The World Cup is in full swing (which is part of the reason I haven't been updating this blog much). Quite simply, I'm loving it.

I was going to have another rant at out ConDem council, because they have stopped showing England matches on the big screen in Chamberlain Square due to trouble during 2004. Conveniently however, they have set up a fans park at the Millennium Point where you can watch them and they will charge you £3.50 for the privilege. Given that we are the only city in the country with a big screen doing this I was going to have a go at them - until I found this article which states that London and Liverpool have banned the showing of all live matches on their big screens due to crowd trouble.

I wonder whether this was the ConDem councillors defending their decision?

School Knife Attack

In the news a few weeks ago was this article on the stabbing of a young boy outside his school. What surprised me about this was that he was taken across the city to City Hospital, rather than the A&E on his doorstep at Heartlands Hospital.

Presumably this was because City hospital have become specialists at this sort of incident.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Gamble Too Far

Birmingham not making the final eight of the bid for the supercasino is hardly surprising. As I mentioned here, it is a particularly daft bid not least for the fact that the council backed site was not in Birmingham. The Con-LibDem Council (should that be shortened to ConDem?) seemed more interested in propping up the failing NEC than regenerating Birmingham. Either that or they support the Villa.

And I'm not the only one who is angry at this council's incompetence. Just read this post by PoliticalHackUK: Playing to lose to see some great quotes from Roger Godsiff ("How can we offer regeneration in Solihull, one of the richest boroughs in the country?") or Karen Brady's rant ("sadly we have to wonder if we have a council worthy of running our city as, slowly, their decisions drain us of our second city status." - worth reading in full here. I was no fan of the Labour administration, but after ten years I had forgotten just how incompetent the "natural party of power" are.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Porn Kings

Birmingham City's association with pornography is well-known, in that Messrs Gold and Sullivan made their money from dirty magazines before purchasing the sleeping giant. But apparently now the City of Birmingham has an association with porn - according to this story by the BBC, web surfers in Birmingham are more likely to search for porn on google than any other city in the world.

In a surprise development, Manchester was for once the second city (that is the only time you will see those words together on this blog).

Apparently West Brom topped the charts for the town with the most web surfers looking for porn (cannot find a link to this but here is some evidence).

I am not sure if this is related to the West Midlands particularly poor season in the Premiership.
But would it be cause or effect?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cockney's Arsenal it up

The People's Republic was incredibly patriotic while following the Champions League final, supporting fellow second city Barcelona over the cockney scum of Arsenal. What a pity - it appears a team from London still haven't lifted Europe's premier trophy. And what a bunch of moaners Arsenal are - claiming the referee was biased against them despite the fact that he disallowed a clear Barcelona goal. And haven't the French been told that level is onside - hence Et'oo's goal was perfectly fine.

Meanwhile on Buggers Broadcasting Capital-ism I found this article in the build-up to the game. The offending section is called Capital Gains and I will point out the following deliberate mistakes - my comments are in italics.

"It may seem surprising that Arsenal are the first team from London to reach the final of the European Cup or Champions League. " - no it is not, because London teams are shite.

"But in the competition's 50-year history, only five countries have had a team from their capital city take the honours. " - I would be interested in comparing that figure to the number of different countries who have had a club lift the trophy - I suspect it is not that much larger

"Despite their reputation as footballing powerhouses, England, Italy, Germany and France have never seen a team from their capital lift the crown..." - Rome, Berlin and Paris do not have more than two football teams in their top flight - PSG were only formed in 1974 so there wasn't even a team in Paris for nearly half the years since the competition has been running. London currently has six teams in the top flight, and has had roughly that number for the fifty years since the competition started.

"...- a fact Arsenal will hope to change." Unfortunately David Dein doesn't have the "influence" in Europe that he does in England.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saucy? Not in Brum

This is the 100th post on the blog and unfortunately yet again it is bad news. Heinz are planning to close the historic HP sauce factory in Aston, moving production to mainland Europe. It comes after Peugeot announcement last month of the closure of the Ryton plant that currently produces the outgoing 206, and a year after the infamous Rover closure that nearly took the Labour government with it.

When added to the many NHS Trusts in the area who have announced job cuts (including Sandwell and West Birmingham and the Women's Hospital) it appears Birmingham will have to reinvent itself again.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Local Election Digest

It may be said that Blair got a bruising nationally on Thursday, but I feel Labour did relatively well in the local elections both in Birmingham and in the country at large given the scale of their recent problems (although apparently Patricia Hewitt believes the Government is having its best year ever). Noteworthy results include Labour surprisingly losing Longbridge to the Tories (thanks to an increase in the BNP vote) and Salma Yaqoob taking Sparkbrook for the Respect party. I was pleased to see this - regardless of what Respect stand for, she tends to be quite a prominent figure in local politics and deserves her place on the council. The Lib Dems managed to pick up Moseley, but not a lot else, and the Tories picked up Erdington.

Unfortunately the city's name was dragged through the mud again with allegations of electoral fraud against a Lib Dem candidate in the north of the city. It's deja vu all over again. And the count at Kingstanding was right royally messed-up, with more votes being declared than were available. This initially gave first place to the BNP candidate when actually the two Labour candidates should have been returned. Unfortunately, as the result was declared this will now have to go through the courts to rectify this, giving the British Nazi Party more free publicity. They no doubt will be spinning the line that it is a government conspiracy to cheat them out of a seat they fairly earned.

The BNP did pick up three seats in Sandwell and one seat in Solihull, and got about 10% of the vote in Birmingham.

But at least they came sixth out of six in Moseley.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blues for West Midlands Teams

Well it had to happen. The overpaid excuses of players that make up the current Birmingham City side got relegated a week ago today after failing to match Portsmouth's win over Wigan, a result which saw West Brom also go down leaving Villa as the only Midlands side in the top flight next season which is absolutely unprecedented (in fact it hasn't been a good season for the West Midlands teams generally; Blues, Albion and Walsall got relegated, Villa ended up with their lowest ever Premiership points tally, and Coventry and Wolves failed to reach the playoffs).

Yes, Portsmouth may have got the rub of the green with refereeing decisions. Blues may well have had a decent run recently. But when you start the season as badly as we did, there was only ever going to be one outcome - and it happened.

Sullivan has immediately blasted some of the players, saying that Jarosik, Sutton, Butt and Melchiot will not be returning to St. Andrews next season. Sutton apparently earned £1.2 million (at £45k-a-week) for playing in six or seven matches. In a meeting on Friday Bruce was spared from the sack, apparently showing he has the hunger to take Birmingham back to the top flight.

Sullivan thinks we need to replace the overpaid players with some young, hungry players.

The People's Republic couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Anthony Beaumont-Dark 1932 - 2006

A bit late I know, but here is a link to an obituary for former Selly Oak MP Tony Beaumont-Dark. He was MP for the former Conservative stronghold between 1979 and 1992, eventually losing to Labour's Lynne Jones the year John Major secured a fourth successive term for the Tories. I may not have agreed with everything he said, but at least he had something to say - which makes him a class above the current political trash who occupy Westminster and the Government.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/politicsobituaries/story/0,,1747104,00.html

Villa Rise from the Dead

Villa took bragging rights in the Second City derby on Saturday with a 3-1 win over the Blues, plunging them deep into relegation trouble. Ignore the claims of foul and offside for the first two Villa goals - Birmingham have been playing rubbish all season.

The real scandal is (as a good Catholic) the match was played at 12pm on Easter Sunday meaning I had to miss it as I went to Mass. I know that there was trouble in the 2-0 victory three years ago on a Monday night, when supporters got tanked-up after work and fights broke out all over town, but are we condemned to Second City derbies at 12pm on Sundays for evermore? We have 24 hour licensing now, and it may be the case that it is still harder to find a pub open on Sunday than Saturday, but can we not have it on Saturday even once? Churches together in Aston were afraid that their Easter services would be affected by the timing, as older people feared to venture out with the footie fans, to which West Midlands Police replied they have asked the FA not to schedule the Brum derby on the Easter weekend again. The problem is not that it is on the Easter weekend - it is that you keep switching it to Sunday at 12pm, which always clashes with Church services.

Let us stop this discrimination against Brummie Christian footie fans.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blues Win

After beating Bolton on Tuesday night, Birmingham City find themselves out of the relegation zone for the first time in six months.

I'm sure they will be back there soon.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Moseley Promoted

I don't usually follow domestic Rugby Union but I was pleased to hear that Moseley have put all the problems of recent years behind them and got promoted back to National League 1 yesterday. They seem to have settled in well at their new home in Billesley common and hopefully will use this season as a springboard to even greater honours, maybe even representing Birmingham in the Premiership.

Across the city the Pertemps Bees, formerly Birmingham & Solihull, seem to be going in the other direction being as they are bottom of National League One. This comes as a surprise to me as last season they were runners-up, and had a great cup run that took them to the semi-finals, knocking out some professional Premiership teams on the way.

It seems that Moseley next season will once again be the main Rugby Union club in Birmingham

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jo Goes

It won't have escaped many people's notice that there are two women representing the West Midlands in the Apprentice. While Ruth may have the skills to go all the way, Jo, after surviving four boardrooms, finally went yesterday. Despite working for MG Rover she failed to sell a car. You just knew that was going to happen, just as you knew she was going to get the snide remark from Alan Sugar.

"She didn't sell a car... she worked for MG Rover, training directors how to make a profit. No wonder they went skint"

Oh dear.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bruce Excuse

It is a week since the 7-0 drubbing in the FA Cup (which I was unfortunate enough to witness) and I'm not sure I've recovered yet. David Sullivan has been highly critical of the players, claiming he is sick of footballers. Steve Bruce on the other hand has been a bit too keen in defending them, publicly criticizing Sullivan's statements on more than one occasion.

Now if your the manager, and you don't like what the owner is saying, surely you do what the captain Kenny Cunningham did and ask to have a meeting with him in private? Is Bruce looking for a way out of Blues, preferably with a lucrative pay-off and without having the criticism leveled at him that he has walked out of another club?

The question is where does he go. Newcastle, who he has been linked with in the past, will not want him after this season's performance, and the same goes for the England job. Surely the best thing he can do for his career is to keep quiet and keep Blues up, or at the very least bring them back up from the Championship next season.

And who would replace Bruce. I can think of no-one except for coach Eric Black - but does he have enough experience. This season truly has profited no-one.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gambling Brum's Future Away

It has not been a good week for the Second-City Blues. After losing to Tottenham 2-0 at home on Saturday, the council decided to back the NEC bid over the City of Birmingham stadium for the rights to hold the regional casino, and then they crashed out of the FA Cup to Liverpool losing 7-0, the worst defeat in 48 years.

Off the pitch I cannot understand the council's decision. Well actually I can - Birmingham City Council have a vested interest in the National Exhibition Centre. It is losing money hand-over-fist (particularly since it lost the International Motor Show) and they see the casino as a way of resurrecting the facility. They claim the decision was made because an out-of-town site would discourage addictive gambling - but Birmingham City Council backing a site in Solihull seems rather daft to me, particularly when you consider the opposition the Borough mustered when plans for a national stadium were to be developed there.

In any case these super-casinos were supposed to regenerate inner-city areas. Are the Government really going to give the licence to a site in the middle of suburbia? Birmingham was in need of a World Class stadium to rival the new Wembley and the two in Manchester, but the Cons-Lib council have bottled it again. I was never a fan of the old Labour administration, but some of the decisions made by the "odd-couple" seem to be based in fantasy rather than reality.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

It's a good time to be Irish. On St Patrick's day an Irish horse won the Gold Cup, and yesterday the Irish rugby team defeated England to win the Triple crown. Once again their best player was the match official, who incorrectly judged two line decisions which led to two Irish tries.

When sixteen play fifteen men in rugby, there is only going to be one winner.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Tale of Two Blairs

It certainly is a bad time to be a Blair. Prime Minister Tony, fresh from winning an education bill with the help of the Tories, has walked straight into a row over party funding as Jack Dromey, the Labour Party treasurer, claimed he knew nothing about the multi-million pound loans that prospective peers have given to the party. Referring the problem to the Electoral Commission, he said "It's wrong that Downing Street thinks it can run the Labour Party: we are an elected party, a democratic party."

He doesn't mince his words does our Jack, firmly blaming the Prime Minister where others would have alluded and waffled. Give him the freedom of the People's Republic.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that Ian Bliar may (as I understand it) have known that an innocent man had been shot dead as little as six hours after the event, which means he would have known it at the press conference where he seemed to understand he posed a direct threat to the public (that is the innocent man, not the Chief of the Metropolitan Police).

The Blairs are a joke. They should both go now.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Third Way

Have the Liberal Democrats missed a trick by failing to elect Chris Huhne as leader? Ming is a good politician, but is he genuinely going to attract any new supporters to the party? He has even talked about resurrecting the 50% top rate of income tax, which was surely a vote loser in the Tory marginals at the last election that ended all hopes in their decapitation strategy.

Huhne is seen as a "yellow Tory". With a background in economics he certainly would have been more competent in that respect, and the fact he is young and new to Westminster would have counted in his favour. Many Tories believed getting rid of Charles Kennedy was a real mistake for the Lib Dems - they looked at the potential leadership candidates and saw them as no real contest for David Cameron.

Chris Huhne may have wiped the smiles of their faces.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Popstars: The Rivals

Birmingham was in the news for the wrong reasons again this week but this time with popstars involved. Pete Doherty, lead singer of the Babyshambles but more famous for his involvement in the recent Kate Moss drug-taking "scandal" was arrested driving a stolen car the wrong way done Colmore Row while some of his former bandmates were playing in the Carling Academy.

Meanwhile at a Kayne West gig at the NEC, two stewards were shot after attempting to remove fans who did not have any tickets from the venue. I guess he will be glad to get back to America where it's a bit quieter...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Train Planes and Automobiles

It appears that car production may be returning to Birmingham as the lease on part of the Longbridge site is renewed by new owners Nanjing automotive. Around 600 - 1000 jobs may be created to build the MG TF sports car. If the business cannot be resurrected however,they have an option of canceling the 33-year lease in 6 months.


Meanwhile a plane nearly crashed in Birmingham airport as it came into land. The Mahan Air plane from Iran had to 180m six miles from the airport when it should have been at 500m.


We always seem to have problems with the transport in this city.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Trains (Plain) and Automobiles

Yesterday it was revealed that Birmingham is the biggest emitter of carbon after London in the country. Now it is not surprising that the a***hole of England (look at its position) is the biggest emitter of noxious vapours, and really it is not that surprising that the second city is, well, second. As the report by the Carbon Trust pointed out, there are many unnecessary car journeys in the city which could easily be made using the existing public transport.

It is interesting that this report came out in the same week as the redevelopment of New Street hit the headlines. Mentioned here on this bog before, unfortunately it seems the City leaders are still intent on re-developing New Street at a cost of half-a-billion pound which would increase passenger numbers but not capacity for trains unlike the rival idea of a Grand Central Station. One of the councillors involved claimed re-developing New Street was the only sensible option because it was Birmingham's main station. The truth is that people interested in the history of the railways in this city know that New Street's dominance was a quirk of history caused by BR deciding to electrify the lines through that station rather than the superior Snow Hill, which is only a shadow of it's former self in its re-opened state.

Another potential problem noted by the media is that any potential investment may come hand-in-hand with a congestion charge.

The People's Republic thinks this is another reason to go ahead with the development. After all, currently the consensus is that congestion charges are ten to fifteen years away - and that's too much time to spend being stuck in a traffic jam.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

London Lets us Down Again

There were two pieces of good news for Birmingham City this week concerning their FA Cup run. Firstly, in the quarter-finals they have a home tie against Liverpool, who have only beaten the Blues once since promotion to the Premiership. Secondly, if they make it all the way to the final, they won't have to take the week off trying to get to London for the final.

This is because, surprise, surprise, Wembley will not be completed on time and the final will be in Cardiff for another year. This was hailed as the worst kept secret by the national media this week - perhaps it should have been hailed as the longest running scandal in this country as London lets us all down.

Again.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Brummies on a Cup Run

All-in-all, I think it was a good day in the FA Cup for Birmingham. City fortuitously reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 22 years after a jammy win over the old enemy Stoke, including two world-class saves from goalkeeper Maik Taylor to deny the Potteries side. Meanwhile across the city Villa almost pulled off a jammy win of there own, scoring against the run of play against Manchester City only to be denied by a last-minute goal from Richards, who is apparently a Brummie but sounded suspiciously like a Manc to me.

Especially after he swore in the post-match interview.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Leak in the Jacuzzi

The Floozy in the Jacuzzi, one of Birmingham's most famous landmarks has apparently sprung a leak. Up to 15 cubic metres of water are being lost a day despite repairs, costing the City taxpayers thousands of pounds.

Must be a crack somewhere.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Footie Rumours in Funny Camp

Footie rumours are incredibly strange but very fun. Take for example Matthew Upson's *alleged* relationship with Pop-idol winner Will Young. In the same week the Sun reported that Barcelona were after him. This week it appears Barcelona are after Curtis Davies and Anton Ferdinand - any connection?

Sol Campbell has recently been in the news a lot due to his personal problems. Rumours have been circulating in the football community for years that he bats for the other side (no that doesn't mean he plays cricket). One theory going around my office at the moment is that his current problems stem from Sven Goran Eriksson's Fake Sheik sting, where the England boss spilled the beans on some of his players by claiming Michael Owen was unhappy at Newcastle (really?), Rio Ferdinand is lazy (never) and he has a good relationship with England captain David Beckham (I though he hated the guy).

Perhaps he also let something slip about Sol that they didn't publish with the rest of these *revelations*. Their headline after team-mate Robert Pires supported him - "We're right behind you".

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Armstrong Whipped into Shape

Poor old Hillary Armstrong. The Labour Chief Whip sent the Prime Minister home on Tuesday night believing they had a vote on the religious hatred bill in the bag, only to see them lose it by one vote. Most commentators agree this is a sackable offence for a Chief Whip.

Even George Galloway turned up to vote for the Government on this one. A bit ironic really, given that Ms Armstrong had spent so much time recently setting up a clinic for the voters of Bethnal Green and Bow while publicizing the fact that the Respect MP wasn't representing his constituents while in the Big Brother House.

Perhaps she should concentrate on doing her own job properly...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Prime Minister of Birmingham

The People's Republic have always known that Birmingham is more important than Britain, but we were surprised to see that this idea was shared by Birmingham City Council. Apparently the new Chief Executive will get a package totaling (including benefits) £230,000 per annum, compared to the Prime Minister's paltry salary of £183,000.

We haven't got independence yet boys...

On Monday councilors from Birmingham were in their London office (!) to lobby the Government over funding for New Street Station. Apparently the Minister for Transport has decided that something finally needs to be done about Birmingham New Street station come what may and thcouncilorsrs have a plan for a underground rail link that will cost nearly a billion pounds according to some estimates. Meanwhile, a more realistic individual has proposed a Grand Central Station near Moor Street station where the railway lines cross, which is a cheaper alternative because there is plenty of space in this area. This proposal would leave New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street stations still serving the city.

The People's Republic says the cheaper the better - we need to end the congestion now and we don't need any capital-style white elephants.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

PRoB on the (American) Political Spectrum

You are a

Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(31% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
It's official - you would have to pay to see your own grandson because we hate life and ourselves and we can't govern!
Apparently, we would support the Demmycrats if the People's Republic were part of the electoral college.
As long as the votes weren't stolen...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Not Quite Hemming's Way

The Lib Dem leadership contest nominations closed today without John Hemming, MP for Yardley and leader of the Lib Dem group, throwing his hat in. Rumours abounded on the political blogs that he was gaging support for a potential leadership bid eventually dropping the idea for lack of support. Some local enemies supported his bid, hoping that it would get him out of Brum (a bit like Big Brother rid Labour of a certain Mr Galloway), but the threat of Sarah Teather was clearly too big.

It is a pity, as I think I am correct in saying he would have been the first Brummie Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain - if he had successfully won the leadership of a party that was electable.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Footbal Fun 'n' Games

Birmingham's thumping 5-0 victory over the Portsmouth Pirates yesterday has brought back my love of football. There is just a chance we might stay up although it may unfortunately be at the expense of our neighbours West Brom, who gifted division whipping boys Sunderland a win increasing the Mackems points tally by a third - now they are halfway to breaking their record low points tally of 18.

Meanwhile in t'North of t'city Aston Villa have been having all kinds of fun and games. A consortium of Irish businessmen are in negotiations with Deadly Doug in a takeover bid (he must be going soft in his old age) but the funniest news came from the News of the World last week when fake sheik Mazhar Mahmood convinced England boss Sven Goran-Eriksson he was planning a takeover of the Second City sleeping giants, encouraging him to join him in a bid and getting him to admit he has the relationship with Mr Beckham to bring the England captain to the Midlands.

Meanwhile current manager O'Leary is fuming, claiming he has always given full support to the quiet Swede and that the England manager should not be commenting on joining clubs where there is already a manager. Perhaps if he'd been doing a better job as Villa manager, there wouldn't be so much speculation about his job?

Gotta love the Villains.

PRoB Blogs Faster

The People's Republic has entered the Broadband age.

Expect quicker revolutionary blogging.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Liverpool 5 London 0

Despite their amazing feat of winning the Champions League, the People's Republic were as surprised as everyone else that Liverpool FC failed to receive a single gong in the New Year's Honours List. Later the Government said that they will get some on one of the Queen's Birthdays (probably the official one), but they had too many sporting honours to give in the New Year with the Ashes win and the successful London Olympic bid.

Now the People's Republic would be the first to defend the honours given to our heroic cricketers; but why did the successful London Olympic bidders get preference over those who one of the greatest comebacks in football history? Liverpool have a history of not being honoured despite being successful - neither the great Bob or Bill were knighted. Manchester United got plenty of honours after their 1999 win. I suspect if a London club had won (and let's remember that a London club has never won Europe's premier football prize), OBE's, MBE's and Knighthoods would have abounded.

The honours system has been a joke for years and this sums it up. It's not who you are, it's how close you are to the London establishment.

The People's Republic salutes the Reds. After all, if you are overlooked by the honours system in this country you have probably done something worthwhile.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

London: "Lucky" Again?

Doesn't time fly! One minute you are lounging around during the Christmas holidays and before you know it you're halfway through January and well into the New Year. This is the first post of 2006 and although it probably won't be the last, although I am unsure how often I am going to blog in the New Year.

Over the Christmas period we heard allegations that London only won the 2012 Olympic bid by mistake after a delegate failed to vote for Greece in the crucial third round. This would explain why an inferior bid won, and also is true to form for London as it often has a worse bid and ends up winning (e.g. the Millennium celebrations, and the National Stadium). This time however it appears to be down to sheer dumb luck rather than fiddling the vote, which the city is used to doing.

Speaking of the national stadium, there are fears it won't be ready for the Cup final and reports of the Australian developers losing large amounts of money. Again, not surprising given an inferior bid won.