Political Football

by • October 8, 2013 • Political footballComments (4)603

Well, we come to the international break and who would have thought that we would be KK1level on points with Manchester United? And who would have thought that we would have won two away games by the first week of October? The first of those two away wins, at Aston Villa, brings back memories from almost exactly 20 years ago….


I remember the incident well even though it was back in 1993. On an autumn Saturday afternoon, under grey Tyneside skies, I was sitting at the Gateshead International Stadium with a work colleague, whom I had persuaded, with the help of a free ticket to come and watch Gateshead United.  Newcastle were away to Aston Villa on the same afternoon. My work colleague had brought his son along and one of them had a radio with them and so we were able to listen out for scores from Villa Park.  Early in the game it was reported that we were the hungrier of the two teams in Birmingham that autumn afternoon and sure enough we went on to win the game. It was perhaps the first real indication that we would not only survive in the Premier League but prosper, eventually finishing fourth.  Sadly I have to confess that I can’t remember the outcome of the Gateshead United game.


Perhaps it was that ‘hunger for success’, that enabled Keegan’s Newcastle United teams to do so well.  There can be little doubt that players and teams who really want to win will usually prevail over players and teams of similar ability, but who perhaps are just not as motivated. In football there is little doubt that being ‘hungry’ is a good thing. Where it doesn’t help to bring success is in the classroom.

It was therefore very alarming to read of the Daily Mirror’s survey, which came out in the middle of the recent Tory Party conference.  According to the Daily   Mirror poll,

“more than 85% of teachers quizzed in the survey said there has been an increase in the number of pupils turning up to school in the past two years without having eaten breakfast. And they revealed children are arriving dirty, in uniforms that do not fit and without warm clothes in winter. Some are so famished they have resorted to stealing food off others, eating a week’s supply of break-time fruit on a Monday and nodding off from lack of nourishment.”

This is the reality of Cameron and Osborne’s Britain today. Whilst the rich get richer, there is, as ever, no trickle down effect.  The poor are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. There is no recovery for millions of British people. It gives lie to the idea that things are now getting better for the British people under Cameron and Osborne’s austerity policies. It also makes nonsense of any claims that the Tories care about the education of all British children.


This is the reality of Britain under this government. For millions of adults and children, it is nothing more than a struggle, with the constant worry of where the next meal is going to come from, whilst dealing with escalating energy bills and other household expenditure.


There is the constant stress, the inability to plan ahead, the lack of holidays. It is hard enough for adults to cope with this – and how many mothers (and fathers) in Britain are going without meals, so that their children can eat – but what is it doing for the children involved?


We want children to be able to dream and to aspire to what they could be when they are older, but how is that possible when life is such a struggle for their families?  If they grow up in that situation, how can they dream of anything else? Yes, it is possible that they can be inspired or motivated by something at school or somewhere else outside of the family situation and it is certainly true that parents in poorer households can be just as caring and encouraging as any others. But how much harder must it be to inspire a child, when they are going without meals? How much harder must it be to help them see that there can be a bright future for them, when they are growing up in such difficult circumstances?


How much harder is it for a child to concentrate at school against the background of financial stress at home?  How much harder when the smallest financial molehill can become the biggest fiscal mountain, a huge crisis.


How much harder is it to persuade a child from a poorer background that it is worth sticking in at school, when the only jobs they see adults around them as having are those with such low wages and consist of working at a call centre or on a zero-hour contract with some dubious employer? Even more so, how much harder is it to persuade a young person, who isn’t from a wealthy background to go to university, with all the debt involved?


Now, I am sure that there will be some reading this who will be thinking, yes, but, the real problem comes down to dysfunctional families, not being able to look after their children properly due to poor organisation and a general lack of responsibility. I have little doubt that there are families who should have the resources to look after their children adequately but lack the werewithal to do so. These cases are those which the tabloids often highlight as if they represent a much higher number. However, I would also argue that the main reason for such an appallingly high number of children going to school hungry is the government’s austerity policies.


The simple fact is that with wages depressed for five long years now and deeper and deeper benefit cuts coming to effect, more and more families really are finding it impossible to make ends meet. And what hope are these millions of families given by the Chancellor? None…   They then fall as easy prey to Wonga and the other ‘payday loan companies’ …


For all the fact that there is an ongoing economic crisis, the fact remains that Britain is still one of the wealthiest nations in the world. It is a shocking indictment of the way the country is run, that we see so many children going to school hungry, that Save the Children Fund have started operating here, that a generation   Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by the governments of the world in San Francisco in December 1948 states that, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” That is surely how the world should be. However it does seem that in Britain today this is far from the case….


Perhaps we will never have a completely fair world where all children have a chance to be all they can be. It is something worth working towards, both globally and in this country. However, this government don’t even seem to want to try

© Peter Sagar October 2013   TF_INITIALS_LOGO

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4 Responses to Political Football

  1. Stephen Cooper says:

    Peter, a rather ideological piece, which deftly sidesteps the legacy of Labour, who left the country in a financial quagmire. The fact remains that this shower are marginally more competent than the last clique and are slowly turning what remained of the economy around. A recent report prepared for the G8 summit in June cited ‘the amount of taxpayers’ cash spent on foreign development projects has soared by 65 per cent over the last decade to a massive £8.3billion last year.
    The increase is more than double that of the G8 group of nations, made up of the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Japan, Italy, Canada and the US, as a whole.’

    I travel, and work across Europe and I can tell you that the economies right across the continent are all in trouble and the ordinary people are suffering badly. The EU has failed and made the rich richer and the poor will suffer on. The UK conceded way too much to Brussels under Bliar, (sic), and the crass and puerile nature of the outgoing chancellor leaving a note stating ‘there’s no money left’ was and is an absolute disgrace.
    I would advocate the billions spent on foreign aid can be halved at the very least and schools can receive funding to provide breakfasts and lunches to all pupils with household incomes under a certain level. Surely that would be a step in the right direction to address this appalling shortfall in quality of life for the next generation.
    Bankers and indeed footballers, (who are somewhat ignored in this equation of greed), should have salary ceilings; and the money should be distributed into the economy in the case of banks, with more lending to SMEs, and in the case of footballers, at least ten per cent should be mandatorily diverted into grass roots football and development of the lower leagues where they can hopefully scour for young talent and bring through potential stars in a better system than we have at the moment, with better nutrition and facilities and medical/physiotherapy treatment to nurture their bodies for longevity in their chosen career.
    Distribution of wealth is a key requisite of government, not shelling out billions to foreign countries, and dare I say it, over 55 million per day as a loss to the EU.
    Charity begins at home, and when the country is solvent, then and only then, give what we can to help others in the same pursuit, as contrary to the declaration you posted, all human beings are not born equal and are not free and many do not have dignity and rights; – some are born in Sunderland.

    *source: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/408367/Anger-as-Britain-still-gives-MORE-foreign-aid-than-any-other-G8-country

  2. Eeeeen says:

    Can I point out that the three EU treaties that came into force under the last government were de facto amendments to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 (and to a lesser extent, the Treaty of Rome in 1957), signed by the preceding Tory government; that the three treaties (Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon), were concerned with structural and procedural changes to how the EU functioned in light of its expansion in eastern Europe; and that the ultimate result of these treaties was to strengthen the position of the European Parliament and thus reduce the often cited ‘democratic deficit’ at the heart of the EU, i.e. it made it more democratic since the European Parliament is the only EU body to which representatives are directly elected. If you consider the strengthening of democracy as conceding “way too much to Brussels”, then so be it.

    Can I also point out that the note which read “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck! Liam” was penned by the outgoing Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne and not by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling.

    To solely blame the previous Labour government for leaving “the country in a financial quagmire” ignores the fact that we are in the middle of a global financial crisis/collapse for which even Gordon Brown in most ebullient mood would not claim credit. Suggesting that “this shower are marginally more competent than the last clique and are slowly turning what remained of the economy around”, also gives far too much credit to George Osborne and not enough to the simple passage of time; given enough time any economy would eventually recover which, in the absence of any real policies from the present government other than those which actually harm economic recovery, is what is happening in the UK (although I wouldn’t don my party hat just yet).

    The actual cost to the UK of EU membership is difficult to pin down exactly, but is around 14 million Euros per day; that is considerably less than the 55 million (pounds?) mentioned.

    Finally, congratulations on the ideological nature of YOUR response which deftly sidesteps the truth.

  3. Tom Bates says:

    We were third in that season and qualifed for the Uefa cup

  4. Stephen Cooper says:

    It takes away from your post that you haven’t the courage to sign your name, so as I am not able to refer to you by name, I will instead refer you to a couple of links that illustrate the incompetence of the Bliar regime and I won’t even include Gordy Broon’s selling off of our gold reserves, which was another master stroke; actually, no I will: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2118319/Budget-2012-How-lost-9BILLION-Gordon-Brown-selling-gold-cheap.html



    Of course, in addition, there are on top of all that, the lies and deceit which resulted in the witch hunt of a harmless scientist who committed suicide, and the billions spent on a pointless and unwinnable conflict in Iraq on the basis of non existent WMD, and the heart-breaking legacy of the many servicemen and women left mutilated with missing limbs and the additional graves for our fallen heroes.
    Ironic then, that you accuse me of ‘sidestepping the truth’, which is a dishonourable slight to anyone, never mind a fellow supporter.
    I am no tory supporter, I made the point that the current shower are marginally better than the last shower, as the links provide ample evidence of the wanton borrowing and spending, (the authorship of the note being chief sec of the treasury and not the chancellor is irrelevant, it emanated from the same department responsible, and actually exacerbated by your clarification that it was the person directly responsible for public expenditure), and the amendments to the three euro treaties were not subject to referenda in the UK, nor were they agreed by anyone outside the cabal who were in power at the time.
    If you want to credit the ‘simple passage of time’ for the turnaround currently underway, then I think that is rather simplistic, and ignores the efforts made in some areas; but with the caveat that I feel so much more could be so much better. As I pointed out, a higher tax should be brought against bank bonuses, and as taxpayers rescue the banks, they should be able to, (at the very least), be able to borrow more freely to initiate SMEs and develop private sector employment, which the working class are crying out for across the country. The current administration could spend the money (or a proportion thereof), spent on foreign aid and eu membership on grants for start up enterprises and help SMEs to develop and expand by way of tax breaks and/or grants to alleviate the catch 22 scenario many find themselves in with cash-flow and dead credit lines. That would be a good start and a potent catalyst to stimulate and grow employment.
    Whether the exact figure is 40 million per day or more, (the UKIP provide a fact sheet on 55 million a day, I agree, it is hard to amass ALL the figures, but as they are fixated on the issue, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now) the salient point remains; we should cut that amount and help our own and as a direct suggestion in reference to Peter’s article, it should be allocated to schools to provide for low income families the facility to feed their children whilst they are in receipt of a decent education; both are as valuable as the other.
    I am not really bothered about who is in power, they’re all cloned from the same hybrid, but whoever it is, they need to address the lower rungs of the ladder in society, before they look to where the top rungs are presently resting upon.