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2015: The Year Ahead

 

 

Ahhh, January. The start of a new year! Already snowdrops are beginning to poke through the frosted earth and Facebook has been deluged with selfies of people burning off their Christmas calories. So, once you’ve quite finished munching on yet another turkey sandwich, it’s time to take a look at the year ahead.

In political terms, 2015 is going to be an interesting year.  It’s Barack Obama’s penultimate year as the President of the USA, Lithuania is joining the Eurozone…and of course, there’s the pant-wetting excitement of the upcoming general election.

The general election is scheduled to be held on 7th May owing to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011; and so far, it’s shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections in living memory. Currently, the poll average shows Labour to be in first place, the Conservatives a close second, followed by UKIP, The Liberal-Democrats, and finally, the Green Party.

In light of this, I decided to ask the good people of Notre Dame to gaze into their crystal balls and share their political forecasts for 2015. Obviously, the most common theme was the general election, and we had predictions ranging from a continuation of the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, to an out-and-out Labour majority. There were also predictions on the state of the parties’ leadership and the likelihood of another financial crash.

 

Lower 6th Student, Kyle McGee:

“My political predictions for 2015 are that the Labour party will win the election, but have to form a coalition government with the SNP. I also think that Boris Johnson will take over as leader of the Conservative Party.”  

Lower 6th student, Lucy Timmins:

“My political predictions for 2015 are that in the general election the Labour party will win with a small majority, and if this doesn’t happen, Ed Miliband will have to resign as leader of the Labour party. I also think that UKIP and The Green Party will win a lot more seats in Parliament.”

Upper 6th student, William Holmes:

“I think that the Labour party will get the largest number of seats but won’t have enough to form a majority; they’ll either go into coalition with the Green Party or rule with no majority. Because of this, I think that Nick Clegg will no longer be leader of the Liberal Democrats, and will either be kicked out or resign. I also think that UKIP won’t get the support expected and vanish from the media until the next European Parliamentary election.”

Upper 6th student, Audrey Murumbi:

“In my opinion, UKIP are going to form a coalition. I also think that the Liberal Democrats are not going to win as many seats as expected. However, things might stay as they are, with the Conservatives in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.”

Upper 6th student, Moin Shah:

“First of all, I think that the Labour party are going to win by a small majority. My second prediction is that the upcoming general election will signal the last majority government, owing to the rise of smaller parties, like UKIP and The Green Party; perhaps leading to electoral reform. I also think that there will be a big shake-up in the EU, relating to the current turmoil in Cyprus and Greece. People aren’t too happy there at the moment. Although we won’t leave the EU, there will definitely be a significant change. The people at the head of the EU aren’t elected, which worries me.”

Upper 6th student, Abdulla Beirakji:

“I predict that there will be a coalition between the Conservatives and another smaller party. I think that the Labour party will probably have a new leader, as Ed Miliband isn’t popular at the moment.  I also think that UKIP won’t be as strong as people currently think they are, because at the European elections, the turnout was very low, whereas at the general election it will be higher, so more people will turn out and show their disapproval.” 

Lower 6th student, Annie Maloney:

“My political predictions are that the general election will result in a clear Labour majority.  I also think that in my own constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, the Labour candidate, Veronica King, will win and replace Alec Shelbrooke.”

Politics teacher and Green Party Councillor Dr Kevin Warnes:

“I think that It’s incredibly close to call…I’m going to go for a hung Parliament. Currently, It’s 6:1 against either of the main parties winning a majority. Overall, I think Labour will be slightly ahead of the Tories, although I think that they’re going to struggle to form a stable coalition. Perhaps there will be a coalition of several parties, or possibly even a minority Labour led government. A likely scenario is that Labour will try to cobble something together.  It might include a role for The Green party, it might not. The Greens will hold Brighton Pavillion, although I don’t think they will win any more seats, and overall they will gain somewhere between 5 and 10 % of the vote. I think that this will provoke a debate about the electoral system. Thirdly, I think that because of the fall out from the general election, there’s going to be a massive constitutional ruckus, owing to the SNP’s success in Scotland. Ultimately, whichever party they end up dealing with in Westminster, they’ll hold their feet to the fire. One outcome of this may be another Scottish referendum, guaranteed in the next 5 years, held towards the end of the Parliament. Finally, I think that the big climate change summit in Paris will result in the world’s major industrialised economies, once again, failing miserably to finalise a global deal on climate.”

Head of Government and Politics, Allan Clifford:

“I think that Labour will get a small majority and form the next government. I also think that will mean that David Cameron will be replaced as leader of the Conservative party by Theresa May. In my opinion, there will be another major economic crash which will turn out to be a real game changer.  I’m also inclined to think that UKIP won’t do as well as some have predicted. They’ll only have 3, at the most, 4 MPs after the election.”

 

And my predictions?

At the moment, Labour have a modest poll lead, however I fear that as the general election draws closer, it will significantly decrease. Ed Miliband is the main factor in all of this. His leadership style is poles apart from Tony Blair’s. Whereas Tony Blair was polished, deft and efficient; ‘The master of Spin’, Ed Miliband can’t even eat a bacon sandwich properly and is increasingly gaffe prone.  All it takes is another ‘bigoted woman’ moment and his Prime Ministerial hopes will be lying in a heap of smouldering ashes.

Secondly, I think that the Liberal Democrats will be absolutely annihilated in the general election.  A party which keeps loosing their deposits is not a party of government. They can do as much campaigning as they want, but the majority of the electorate on May 7th will be voting with their gut-feeling, and people have not forgotten Nick Clegg’s massive betrayal over tuition fees. So ultimately, Nick Clegg will have to resign.  I bet Danny Alexander is salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs…

Finally, the general election. If you put a gun to my head, I’d be inclined to go for a minority Labour government propped up by the SNP, although the SNP may well push for another Scottish referendum.

We’ll see.

 

By Fran Talbot

Posted in Highlights, Sport0 Comments

A new start (again)

Neil Redfearn

A win! A win! Finally, after thirty nine long, agonising days and another change of managers, Leeds United have finally ended their seemingly interminable winless run. Forget the fact that it was against the worst team in the league who are already ten points off safety, at this point I am willing to take a win against the Farsley under twelves’ team, and I’m not even exaggerating!

Fair sacking?

But of course the big talking point that still remains amongst Leeds fans is whether Cellino was right to drop the axe on Darko Milanic’s reign (and I use the term lightly) or whether old papa Massimo could have at least spared him a few more games. To me, what Cellino cannot seem to grasp is that sometimes, just sometimes, when things are not going great for a new manager at a football club, the best thing to do is organise a meeting and discuss what exactly is going wrong and what needs to be changed until both parties come to an agreement. In fact, isn’t that how all chairmen and managers handle these kinds of situations in the real world? However, something tells me that calling the manager a “loser” and then giving him his marching orders is not the best way to handle it. But hey, I’m no football chairman, so I could be wrong.

But for me, Darko Milanic’s set up did have some real promise. At times I think we did show some excellent defensive organisation and were showing some good flare and passing movement going forward. This ultimately was a system that needed to be given time to develop and become ingrained into the players’ minds as the inconsistency with keeping up this style of play in a single match and the basic sloppy errors were really showing. Had Cellino waited until after the January transfer window and let Darko make some new signings, things maybe could have been different.

Much needed break

Last weekend, of course saw another international break for the Euro 2016 qualifiers which really could not have come at a better time for Leeds. With our last game being a win and hardly any international players in our set up, Redders now has two long, uninterrupted weeks to revive the ruptured Leeds United machine. He is also lucky in the fact that Cellino has stated his intent to keep Neil Redfearn as head coach of the club on a long term basis, giving him the time and space to “put together all the ethics and my ethos on the team” as he put it. As we know, Redfearn is a local lad from Dewsbury and has been a Leeds fan his whole life, which can (hopefully) give our players that extra grit and passion that we have so far been missing since the departure of players like Johnny Howson and Andy Hughes, whose passion and commitment to the club was visible for all to see. What the players now need to do is develop the tough, give them nothing characteristics that have heavily shaped our success over the years. We need to be a confident, no nonsense team, as this at least make us hard to beat and ensure the opposition has to work hard to beat us rather than simply waiting for us to make mistakes and then pouncing, as was happening with Darko Milanic.

Our next game sees us away from home against Blackburn Rovers, who haven’t lost since September but are by no means the form team in the Championship. A win here is vital as it would surely put us back on track, having already played four of the top six teams. This Championship season is most open one that I can remember, so three points on Saturday can open up a whole host of possibilities for the rest of the season.

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The Rise of the MLS

The USA’s top football league known as the MLS over recent years has undoubtedly grown in popularity. In fact, football, or ‘soccer’ as it is known in the US, has become a major thing in the country, even if not to the level of the NFL or MLB. This is thanks in part to the hugely positive performances in recent World Cups from the national team with them only just missing out on a quarter final spot to a strong Belgium team.

A lot of high profile names have made the move to the US in recent years; David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and most recently Kaka. However, all of these players have moved during the tail end of their careers when they’ve already made a name for themselves in world football. Will this change though? There are plenty of attractive options for players nearing the end of their career away from Europe’s top leagues, with China bringing in many players on extortionate salaries being an example of this. Didier Drogba during his time in China was reportedly earning $310,000 per week, so with offers like that going to players well into their thirties, why should they go to the MLS?

The recent acquisition of MLS franchises by both David Beckham and City Football Group (also made up of Manchester City and Melbourne City FC) will bring not only some high profile players, but also media interest from across the globe. David Beckham is known worldwide and has become almost synonymous with English football, and the sport in general. The media focus on his Miami based franchise, particularly in the Uk will be huge. He is one of the people in world football who would be able to attract the big names, and I think that all it will take for the popularity of the MLS to really sky-rocket would be one or two of these big names to turn down moves to the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid and opt for a move to the MLS instead. In practice however this will be a lot more difficult. The lure of Champions League football offered by Europe’s leading clubs has been attracting the biggest names in football away from teams competing at a lower level, and the lack of this in the MLS would undoubtedly deter a number of potential new signings. As I said before though money talks, and if enough stars make the move to the USA, who knows how big the league and sport will become over there.

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ regarding the potential success of the MLS. If a few wealthy investors turn up offering ridiculous salaries to players at the peak of their careers, few would turn the move down. Just look at Colombian striker Radamel Falcao who completed a move to AS Monaco for figures reported as anything between £300,000 and £450,000 per week when they were still competing in Ligue 2, the second tier of French football. Money talks (or shouts very loudly in the case of Falcao) and if an offer comes through to some of world footballs up and coming stars that includes a huge salary and the option to live in a place like New York or Los Angeles, we could well see the pool of talent in the MLS increase dramatically, and with it the popularity of the sport in the USA. American sports in recent years have been an exciting proposition for broadcasters in the UK such as Sky Sports and ESPN, and there is no sign of that slowing down. If the public interest is there, then there is no reason why the MLS can’t and won’t become as popular as Europe’s top leagues.

 

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READY, STEADY, GO!

As cycling is becoming more and more popular each year, the Grand Depart in Yorkshire is predicted to be a huge success according to results from fans of the sport. Cycling this year sh0uld be a meticulously brilliant and exciting event. There’ll be much to look out for.

Starting on the 5th July, they will be cycling the first stage of 190 kilometres from Leeds, Harewood, Otley, Ilkley, Skipton ,Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn, Ripon and finally Harrogate. The second stage is the most lengthy and consists of 200 kilometres from York, Knaresborough, Silsden, Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Huddersfield, Holmfirth and finally Sheffield. After the thousands that turned up to celebrate at London’s 2007 Grand Depart, many more are expected to be lining the streets of Yorkshire, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tour de France star swinging round the hairpin bends of the Yorkshire Dales.

There is meant to be lots of events going off, such as sportive’s for all abilities, and the campsites are expected to be fully booked, with people rushing off to watch. The route is scenic, and consists of various back lanes.

Chief executives of the grand depart have estimated that it will make enormous short term income for Yorkshire, such as the thriving Betty’s Tearooms in Harrogate, campsites, B and B’s hotels, shops, cafes.

To finish off, for those of you who are interested in cycling, you will be able to see it and show a little support anywhere near you. It’s a must.

By Isabelle Garside

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