Run with Eric + World

No. 10

OK, so last week Huw Davies' Week Spot became Huw Davies' Weak Spot as I failed to post, well, anything of note. But hey, that's in the past now! So let's get back on track with a fresh look at the week that is now, uh, in the past.

I knew there was a flaw in this somewhere.

(By the way, the title 'No. 10' refers not just to the focus on Downing Street in the first article, but that this is also the 10th Week Spot post. Thanks for sticking with me through the rough patches.)

Move along, nothing to see here
Tsvangirai ready to dance with the devil
In defence of Andy Murray
One small step for reality TV; one giant leap for mankind

Move along, nothing to see here

Divisions in the Government mean it's to the bunkers again as The Sunday Telegraph proclaims 'LABOUR IN CIVIL WAR'. It'd be enough to get you worried if it wasn't for the fact that this is probably the fourth time they've declared a civil war in the Government in the last few weeks. When did it start exactly?

Anyway, rifts do seem to be rife – but leadership challengers AWOL. It seems that many Labour MPs have nothing better to do than shout for a new leader, but when it comes to suggesting one they mutter, grumble and draw cartoons of Gordon Brown with an arrow through his head.

Brown needs a good autumn and a better winter. It doesn't look as though he is going to deposed now, because no one seems ready to take his place (alternatively, this makes interesting reading). This is why the timing of the Glenrothes by-election is crucial. If Brown waits and waits, toughing it all out all the while,

rides out the storm to emerge the other side and somehow wins that by-election, he's right back on track. But if he waits and loses, he is done for. If he holds the by-election now and loses (which he almost certainly will), he might just get away with it. Is it right to lose a seat to save the PM? Sometimes a pawn must be sacrificed for a king. But then I was never any good at chess.

The point is this: no one is coming forth to lead the country, so Gordon Brown is safer than he may seem. The Labour Party is not. They are at a crossroads and they need to take one of two paths (uh, maybe more of a fork in the road, then). Either unite and resolve to force a leadership challenge or shut up, show some genuine party unity and get behind Brown.

And yes, some of this is up to Brown himself. By carrot or by stick, he needs to regain control of his party. The party needs to either let this happen, or find someone else to take control instead. This is government, for goodness' sake – the country needs a leader with his own people behind him, not behind him with a dagger at the ready.

Decisions, decisions. Someone's got to make one.

Tsvangirai ready to dance with the devil

Forget 'WORLD WAR 3 BREAKS OUT'. Forget 'McCAIN WINS AMERICAN ELECTION'. This may well be the most terrifying headline I can ever imagine.


That sends a shiver down my spine. I don't pretend to understand African politics all that well, but I do know that Robert Mugabe is one of the most evil men alive – stop me when I get too emotionally involved – and that trusting him may be a risky strategy. Apologies for succumbing to Godwin's Law, but Chamberlain trusted Hitler and look where that got us. He invaded Britain, won the war and now we all speak German (wait, what?).

Sorry. I don't want to make a mockery of what is a seriously tragic situation in Zimbabwe. And to be fair, I don't think Tsvangirai wants to trust Mugabe. He just realises he may have to. But this is why the power-sharing solution isn't a solution at all: Tsvangirai's MDC will only ever be a junior partner to Mugabe's Zanu-PF, they will struggle to exert any influence over him and atrocities will continue.

But then, I suppose, what else could Tsvangirai do? Not a lot. It's still up to other nations to intervene in some way, and I worry that this new development involving a sharing of power will only delay that, while governments na├»vely think they can stop worrying about this troublesome country for a while. More positively, they may be giving the new system time to work, and I suppose this has to happen – but surely, a few months should be enough to see if there is at least any movement towards change. And again, I'm not confident, because Mugabe is not some repentant sinner looking o right his wrongs. He never saw his crimes as wrongs, and sees no reason to change the status quo.

Tsvangirai told The Independent on Sunday, "When you negotiate, you ought to have faith and confidence in each other. Otherwise, there is no point in negotiating, because you are bound to fail. I am therefore giving [Mugabe] the benefit of the doubt." Except of course, in this case there WAS point in negotiating without having faith and confidence in your partner, and that's that there was no way Tsvangirai was going to win through the ballot box. Hell, he did, and he still didn't prise Mugabe from power. This is not a man to whom you give the benefit of the doubt.

I know he's been pressured into this, and that it's not ideal circumstances for him. But I just hope Tsvangirai knows what lies in store. Because mark my words: this is not the beginning of democracy in Zimbabwe. I hope and pray it is, but I'm a man of lesser faith than its new co-leader.

In defence of Andy Murray

So on Sunday 7th/Monday 8th September (depending where you live), Andy Murray played Roger Federer in the US Open final, and lost. It was a sad day for him and a predictable day for everyone. All in all, it was probably a lovely birthday present for Tim Henman, who turned 34 the day before the final: for all his proclamations of support, confidence and hope for Murray, the fact remains that it's hard to like anyone doing your job better than you, especially when that job is entertaining the British crowd as well as looking like you might win something, neither of which Henman could do.

But 'Tiger Tim' can sleep easily at night knowing that, inexplicably, he's still more popular than Andy Murray. For some reason, soon to be discussed, everyone – or at least everyone I've met – hates the talented young Scot.

And I think the reasons lie in those three words: "talented young Scot". The first two are an unhappy couple in jealous armchair sports fanatics: it's hard not to feel a bit useless when you're watching someone achieve so much more than you ever could at the same age you finished university (and I'm not just talking about myself here, although I am struggling to come to terms with being older than two of the top four tennis players in the world – Murray and Djokovic – and only four months younger than one of the others, Rafael Nadal). So Murray's young and talented, and finally, he's Scottish. And therein lies the hatred. Good old-fashioned racism.

To be fair to Murray-haters, they probably aren't racists and I doubt most hold anything against the Scottish apart from perhaps a mild xenophobia. It may be the same general mistrust that a lot of people – not least the idiot Kelvin MacKenzie – love showing towards Gordon Brown now the 'mean, Scottish, money-grabbing Chancellor' has become the 'mean, Scottish, money-grabbing Prime Minister'. It may be that English tennis fans don't like the idea of a Scotsman representing the UK ahead of anyone else. It may just be that they don't like the premise of a Monty Python sketch being ruined (do your own research for that one). It may be any of these things, but it seems that regardless of how well he does, Murray is in for a hard time from his own compatriots. Still, he's only got himself to blame. Because it can all be traced back to this comment:

"I'll be supporting anyone but England."

These words, spoken in reference to the 2006 Football World Cup, consigned him to a lifetime of antipathy in the views of many, many English people. It doesn't matter that he has no reason to support England; it doesn't matter that he was joking. It's too late now. He spat in the eyes of English sports fans, and they don't want their beams messed with, thank you very much, but by the way, you've got a mote in yours.

Obviously not everyone feels this way about Murray, or at least claim they don't. But the other arguments for disliking him do seem pretty thin. Most say it's because he's arrogant. Really? The man who told everyone not to get carried away when he first burst onto the scene? The man who readily admits to having faults in his game and confessed to not having prepared enough for the Olympics? The man who, after his recent defeat to Federer, was self-effacing, had only praise for his opponent and avoided making excuses such as a lack of time to prepare? Sorry, where's the fault there?

Is it all the emotions he pours out in a game? Yes, he does look like a bit of a tit. He's practically demonic in this photo, with the rectangular mouth and all. But why should we hate him for wearing his heart on his sleeve? He's showing a bit of fire; that he cares, and after following in the footsteps of a British no1 who looked like farting was just too much effort, he should be applauded for it.

Or is it that he does well? Deny it all you like: the British love a gallant loser. But as a sporting nation, we're starting to thrive. Look at the Olympics! Look at the Paralympics! Look at the Champions' League! It's OK, we can win things now!

So we're back to the racism card again, which wasn't an issue until he said he wouldn't support the English football team. I don't expect you to agree with me, but I think that's what it boils down to. Sorry.

One small step for reality TV; one giant leap for mankind

My next and last subject matter may surprise some of you, since a) it relates to something that happened a while ago and b) I hate reality TV. But I've heard a lot of talk about it this week, making it suitable for a 'week spot', and it means I get to include 'Gossip' as a topic tag now.

So, as I understand it, there's a once-popular programme every year on Channel 4, T4, E4, More4, EvenMore4, YetMore4, SurelyThereCanBeNoMore4, YourFour, MyFour, OurFour, TheirFour, Channel 4 + 1, E4 + 1, More 4 + 1, More 4 + 2 = 6, 4OD, 4COD, 4ADHD, ScoreFour, BoreFour, ChoreFour, PoorFour, HardcoreFour, Softcore4, IntermediatecoreFour, ForeplayFour, WhoreFour, SoreFour, LawFour, WarFour, I Can't Believe It's Not Four, I Can't Believe It's Not Four + 1 and certain frequencies of Al-Jazeera that's called Big Brother. And, as I understand it, someone called Rachel won this year (?). Finally, I am led to understand that she's incredibly boring and may have spelt the death of reality television.

Give the woman an MBE.

But yes, she won, did she? And she beat some bloke who was really nasty? Called Rex? Is that right? And Rachel winning when she's, like, sooooo boring is bad for the programme?

But good for humanity, surely. The British public chose someone nice over a complete and utter bastard (American election voters, take note). That's very encouraging. What with Jade Goody's illness turning people into monsters who think she's somehow faking cancer or if not that she deserves it – I mean, I hate Jade Goody but I wouldn't wish cancer on her... maybe that she stubbed her toe one morning – it's good to know there might still be some hope for humanity yet.

And when you're drawing that conclusion from reality TV, you know you're in trouble.

Freedom, Gossip, HAPPY, HOPE, Life, Politics, pretty, race, road, Sport, Tennis, TIME, TV, and more:

No. 10 + World