Tuesday 28 April 2015

Migrants perishing in their attempt to come to Western Europe - the more things change the more they remain the same

The World has suddenly woken up to the disaster of migrants trying to cross over in little more than canoes from shores of Africa to Western Europe. Many have died and continue to die. I have just read another article about 14 migrants who lost their lives on the train tracks in Macedonia as they tried to cross into Western Europe by land.

The sheer number of people dying is sickening. Young, babies, women, children and men. Most it would appear desperately running away from violent persecution and poverty. Unfortunately this is not a new thing. If you ever find the time please read this academic work here. If it doesn't break your heart, you are made of stone.

In modern times, people have travelled through the Sahara desert, crossing borders, enduring violence and natural disasters to get to the Libyan coast in their desire to enter Western Europe. I have read the sad stories of many trying to travel by road from West Africa to the African coast in the hope of ending in Europe.

As it has been pointed out by Ed Miliband and others last week, the overthrow of Gaddafi has made the problem worse. Libya now appears to be a no mans land where anything goes. This has encouraged and emboldened the traffickers. Many more are dying because of the decision of the EU countries to cut back on Sea & Rescue patrols.

It is sad that the lessons of Iraq is lost on David Cameron and his fellow leaders. However what is sadder is the fact having failed to learn those lessons, they are then failing to deal with the consequences of their failure.

Is there a solution, I'm not sure there is one. Nothing can immediately change the violence and poverty the migrants are running away from. How much of the violence is caused by the Western countries is debatable but it is definitely a contributory factor.

However my one great suggestion which is also a solution to the issue of asylum seekers in Europe is for European countries (individually or jointly) to create a safe haven somewhere outside of Europe, a pseudo refugee 'town' where people genuinely fleeing violence can be protected and their genuine asylum claim assessed. If they are found deserving, they can then be helped to settle in the appropriate country either in line with EU guidelines or the asylum seekers preferences (possible family ties or language preferences). In my opinion, this will ensure that the economic migrants focus their efforts on genuine routes to legal residency or divert their attention to more welcoming countries.  This will only work however if Europe can protect its borders. I have however not seen anything to suggest it can.

Finally, I think back to my teenage years and the jokes I used to share with my friends during the  American Visa Lottery season. How we used to joke that if a ship turned up at the Port bound for America or Europe, that we will be the first to board the ship. How we used to jest.

Fast forward to 20years and how ironic that these migrants are doing the same thing. Paying serious money and battling hard to board these ships bound for the 'utopialand' of the West.  Sadly unlike our ancestors during the slave trade. Those proud ones ran in the opposite direction. They were sold down the river by their brothers. They fought hard not to be taken on the ships bound for Europe and America. But today, we willingly board the same ships. Enduring worse indignity. Shame really.

And  I complain about slave trade and racism. Maybe I should stop. Maybe I should shed a tear for my brothers and sisters and their kids hoping for something better in Europe but end up drowning in the unmarked grave that is the Mediterranean Ocean.

Shame on us

Sunday 26 April 2015

Black Managers in Football - there is a deeper underlying issue

Recent media interviews by Les Ferdinand & Chris Ramsey (Director & Manager of QPR respectively), John Barnes (Ex England & Liverpool Legend, Former Manager of Tranmere & Celtic) have resurrected the issue of the limited numbers of black and ethnic minority managers in English football.

Some have proffered the so called Rooney Rule (an initiative in American NFL) as a fix to address this issue. Gordon Taylor Chief Executive of the PFA came out in support of this initiative in 2011. Since then, the FA Chairman, Greg Dyke and many others have had their say, adding different and relevant slant to this issue. Some think there is no point in introducing the Rooney Rule whilst others believe a different solution should be adopted.

However, three weeks ago, John Barnes made a very pertinent comment in my opinion and added a his own dimension. His take was that "Black Managers struggle to find jobs after been sacked". I have classified the reaction (mostly from social media and the comments section on the BBC website) to John Barnes' comments as follows:

1) "He was a 'shit' manager anyway that is why he was fired and has never been re - hired"

2) "Why are they pulling the race card again"

3) "Surely if a Black Manager is good, a club owner / or board will hire him as their manager irrespective of his prior record"

I marvel at these responses as I am generally of the opinion that John Barnes is right and there is something wrong with the extremely low number of Black and Ethnic Minority managers in English Football. It might be that a lot of club owners don't feel comfortable with this demography.  I must acknowledge and praise the owner of Brighton Football Club and Tony Fernandes of QPR for appointing Chris Hughton and Chris Ramsey as managers. However,  we are all aware that both roles are similar to  'hospital passes' in a game of football. Something of a poisoned chalice. Jobs that had been offered to other non ethnic managers who made a hash of those jobs and then passed to both Messrs Hughton & Ramsey to turn around. Mustn't complain though.

As at three weeks ago, there were six managers from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds employed by English football's 92 league clubs: Ramsey and Hughton. Chris Powell at Huddersfield, Fabio Liverani, the Leyton Orient boss, Keith Curle of Carlisle and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink doing a fantastic job at Burton. 

Jimmy has gained promotion to League One at the first time of asking with Burton. I am intrigued that he had to start his managerial career as a League Two manager and wonder if the colour of his skin has anything to do with it. This was a player who played at the top of the EPL for many seasons and had a distinguished career across three of Europe's top leagues. We have seen other people without the same CV as Jimmy start at a higher level of the game. Was that about ability or is there is a 'below the surface' issue that no one dares speak about? Take a look at the list of managers in the Championship and League One and tell me why Jimmy shouldn't have been appointed ahead of at least 50% of the people on that list. 

It appears Fabio was recruited as a result of the Italian connection and this might actually be the way forward. Are Black and Ethnic Managers building the right network that will help them access these managerial jobs they desire? 

Chris Powell has a reputation as a top manager of a League One side but he was only offered the Huddersfield job on a rolling contract basis. Despite his reputation, he was out of a job for a while after been sacked as Charlton manager. You only need to read Keith Curle's career history to appreciate some of the indignities he has had to suffer. Put through what a Court of law labelled "a sham of a disciplinary process" by a club he once managed. Keith was out of the game for over a year prior to his appointment at Carlisle United. 

So when the UK population is 14% Black and ethnic minorities and 25% of players are from the same demography, how come there are only 6.5% of them as managers. I did some number crunching for a group of friends recently and the number of black and ethnic minority people with the UEFA pro licence and UEFA B licence is higher than 14%. This is just in case you are tempted to think that Black and Ethnic Managers are not qualified for managerial roles or are too brain lazy to take or pass their coaching badges as some might be tempted to think. 

Clearly there is an issue to address but whether it will be addressed is another issue. It is interesting to note that Large Corporations in the UK following a nudge from the government and politicians have addressed a similar issue - that of the imbalanced representation of females on the Board FTSE100 companies. The numbers have improved significantly. The focus is now on the under - representation of black and ethnic minority people on the same board. Hopefully this too should be addressed during the next parliament. If FTSE100 companies are willing to address these issues, what is the excuse of football clubs and their owners? Is there excuse something that dare not say its name? 

For me though, a sure-fire solution is for rich black and ethnic minority people to invest in football clubs. If you are on the board, people like you will get the opportunity to interview for these roles and that is the essence of the Rooney Rule and what managerial candidates want. The opportunity to be interviewed. The opportunity to set their stall out and be judged accordingly. 

Before I finish, I will go back to John Barnes comments - "Black Managers struggle to find jobs after been sacked". I will now list the names of a few managers still in work and invite you to make your own conclusions:

1) Sam Alladyce's last two jobs before West Ham were disasters. He still got the West Ham gig. He is a Premier League Manager today. The Davids and Lady Brady at West Ham gave him a chance based (in my opinion) on the work he did with Bolton. Yes he has justified that faith as West Ham are now part of the Premier League furniture and are looking to progress to greater things. But still he failed at Newcastle & Blackburn. He was fired at both clubs but he is still a Premier League Manager today.  

2) Brendan Rodgers has failed at a few clubs. He has won nothing in his career and by passing on the opportunity to win the league last year on the alter of some silly yet to be established principle, he might never win anything again. Yet Brendan is the manager of Liverpool. The one time biggest club in the world. Let that sink in. 

3) Steve Bruce. Great player. But please look at the history of Steve's managerial career. Steve has managed 7 clubs in 16 years. He has won nowt in any of these clubs and has led a few clubs into relegation. He is currently struggling at Hull with his club in danger of relegation.  But guess what Steve is one of the favourites for the Newcastle job and any other job going in the North of England. Is it Steve's results that makes him this attractive to club owners? Waiting for someone to defend this. 

You want more examples, look at the records of most managers in the Championship and the lower leagues. They are allowed to fail, they are allowed to be shite, cool their heels a bit and stroll back into a job big or small. But similar managers like John Barnes, Paul Ince are not allowed to be shite. They are not allowed to fail. No its not racism some will say. Call it whatever you like, I know what I would call it.


Monday 6 April 2015

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

I have always been fascinated about the concept of "Policing by Consent". It is a bit like democracy. The rulers rule because we put them their. They might actually do whatever they want once they get their but make no mistake WE PUT THEM THEIR. They sometimes circumvent our wish by making sure that whoever we put their is one of their own for example - Miliband vs. Cameron vs. Clegg - ANY DIFFERENCE? I don't think so.

Back to "Policing by Consent". I tried to explain the concept to a gathering of friends a few years ago. Take the last London riots as an example. You can see how stretched the Police were. Just imagine if all parts of the United Kingdom had simultaneously rioted. The police would have been incapable of restoring order. I several other examples and scenarios but would rather not go overboard on this issue.

I sincerely hope the ruling class and the Police recognise the fact that they only rule and police with our consent. I have noticed a few things in the public space that makes me wonder if the Police and Our Rulers get the point. Two recent examples come to mind:  

1) The Adam Johnson Arrest

If the statement released by the Police is anything to go by, it appears Adam Johnson has done something very wrong. In order to arrest him, the Police rock up in his house with 3 squad vehicles. THREE. Potentially these 3 vehicles had a minimum of 6 OFFICERS to arrest ONE MAN. This is understandable if we are talking the secret leader of ISIS or a doomsday cult deep in the innermost part of Durham. No we are talking a 20 something professional footballer. What was he going to do? Resist arrest?

Was this the most cost efficient way of dealing with his arrest? Is this proof that the Police have spare capacity within their ranks since they could spare 6 OFFICERS to arrest ONE individual with no known history of violence.

This is not about anonymity for both rape victims and the accused. I just question how the Police allocate their resources. A trawl through the Internet will reveal many photographs of multiple police officers and patrol cars turning up to situations where one or at most two police officers can deal with. the situation.  Who is really responsible for making these decisions? Do they understand the concept of proportionality? Do they understand we are broke as a nation? I don't think so.

2) UK Citizens attempting to emigrate to Syria

In one of my earlier posts, I commented about UK citizens / residents going off to fight for either side of the ISIS war in Syria & Iraq and indeed in other conflict areas around the world. My stance then and now is that these people should not be allowed back into the country under any circumstances.

If Micheal Adebolajo had been prevented from coming back from Kenya / Somalia, Lee Rigby will not have died from his crazed action in Woolwich. Also MI5 and our myriad security agencies would have saved the few bob they spent spying on him and his ilk.

As somewhat outlined above, the reason the Police are able to police effectively is because majority of the public are law abiding. If the flow of people to Syria is a trickle - the odd individual or if people are been kidnapped against their will, the state is justified in taking action. However what is reported in the media suggest that the rate at which people are attempting to go to Syria is turning from a trickle into something of a steady flow. I will question why where are preventing these people from leaving the UK.

Our Leaders, the Police and the security agencies should understand this point - SOME PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF UK LIFE & THEY WANT SOMETHING ELSE. Why are we preventing them? Why are we stopping them from actualising their dream? Why are we effectively reverse kidnapping them?

Please imagine the effects of these voluntary emigration on our collective purse - reduced pressure on GP / A & E / Hospital resources, smaller school classrooms, reduced pressure on social services? Reduced cost for security surveillance on these people etc.

Why are we so stuck on the idea that these people have to be prevented from running away to Syria? What exactly are we afraid of? What is even more annoying is that we bring some of these people back, spend loads of money prosecuting them in the courts of law and even spend a bigger shed load imprisoning them, given them free reign to radicalise more people in prison and allow the warped vicious cycle continue. Whose interest is the government protecting by preventing these people from going to Syria?

While I'm not asking for the government to actively encourage these people in their desire to go to Syria, I am definitely of the opinion that we should not be preventing them. I understand there are potential issues when these people get bored in Syria and decide they want to come back. That however is a different issue. We don't know if they would have sadly passed away before getting bored.

If they do genuinely get bored and want to come back, they need to obtain a travel document and that is entirely at our discretion how we deal with that request. A refusal wouldn't be out of place on my opinion. I would also imagine that their original travel documents are no longer valid once they decide to abandon the way of life here for what is effectively promoting terrorism.

As a country, we should be working with the international community & the United Nations on how international rules can be changed to ensure terrorists and their sympathisers are rendered stateless and we won't have to worry about the bored terrorist sympathisers who decide to come back.

Our leaders complain about the need to cut government spend but their actions and that of other governmental agencies like the police clearly does not support this 'broke' story.