Friday, June 8, 2012

Euro 2012 prediction

As always seems to happen at moments like this, my sister presented me with a prediction form for her work sweepstake a few days ago. I must say I find football predictions a lot more challenging than rugby, and to make matters worse, exact scores were required. I came up with a potentially very silly theory that the way to maximise the chances of getting any given match score right is to always predict 0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 2-0, 2-1 or 2-2. Obviously many games will have much higher scores, but I reckoned the chances of hitting on precisely the right numbers on those occasions are so slim that it's hardly worth the bother of trying - whereas the chances of being right about a 2-1 or a 0-0 scoreline are a bit healthier.

Anyway, this is what I came up with -

Group A

Poland 1-1 Greece
Russia 1-0 Czech Republic
Greece 0-1 Czech Republic
Poland 0-0 Russia
Czech Republic 1-1 Poland
Greece 0-2 Russia

Table :

Russia 7
Czech Republic 4
Poland 3
Greece 1

Group B

Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
Germany 2-1 Portugal
Denmark 1-2 Portugal
Netherlands 1-2 Germany
Portugal 0-1 Netherlands
Denmark 0-1 Germany

Table :

Germany 9
Netherlands 6
Portugal 3
Denmark 0

Group C

Spain 2-0 Italy
Ireland 1-1 Croatia
Italy 1-1 Croatia
Spain 2-0 Ireland
Croatia 1-2 Spain
Italy 1-0 Ireland

Table :

Spain 9
Italy 4
Croatia 2
Ireland 1

Group D

France 0-1 England
Ukraine 1-1 Sweden
Ukraine 0-0 France
Sweden 0-1 England
England 1-0 Ukraine
Sweden 1-2 France

Table :

England 9
France 4
Ukraine 2
Sweden 1

Quarter-finals :

Russia 0-2 Netherlands
Spain 2-0 France
Germany 2-0 Czech Republic
England 1-0 Italy

Semi-finals :

Netherlands 0-2 Spain
Germany 2-1 England

Final :

Spain 2-1 Germany

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why don't we rub it out and start it again?

It's been quite a long time since I last spread my wings and wrote a guest article for another site. (Believe it or not, I think my last one was for Political Betting!) Manuel from The Eurovision Times was kind enough to ask if I'd be interested in contributing to the site, and you can read my first article HERE. He also asked if I could think of a witty or distinctive name for my column, but after quite a bit of thought all I could come up with was something that Bob Monkhouse almost certainly never said - "In bingo lingo, it's Kelly's Eye..."

The weekend when democratic dissent became "bad manners"

So it's over at last. I think what I found most troubling about the Jubilee Weekend was the reports of republican protesters being shouted down and told to go away, on the grounds that they were "spoiling people's day". It suddenly dawned on me what it is about monarchism that makes it entirely different from other democratic political beliefs - it depends for its sustenance on the fiction that everyone, without exception, agrees with it. How else can we explain just how absurdly upset monarchists became at even the tiniest, vaguest reminder that there is an alternative to their own view? It also perhaps explains why the broadcast media, which usually makes at least some efforts to provide balance, shamelessly turned itself into an unalloyed propaganda organ over the weekend ("Britain is absolutely united"), and banished all but the most slavishly loyal monarchist views during their coverage - maybe they felt they would be "letting down" or unduly "upsetting" the majority of their viewers by reminding them that democratic dissent extends to the question of how the Head of State should be selected.

Heaven only knows how these people would cope with a referendum on the monarchy. Opinion polls currently suggest that a comfortable 70% would vote for retention, with only 15% opposed - but simply posing the question and countenancing the inevitability of a non-unanimous verdict would, I suspect, be enough to make many monarchists feel violently ill. Oh, and the campaign - how grubby.

* * *

This from the Herald raised a smile -

"Following talks between Mr Salmond and BBC chairman Lord Patten, who met the First Minister at Holyrood earlier this year, it has been reported that guidelines will be issued to the broadcaster's staff on how to avoid terms favoured by the independence and pro-Union camps.

Nationalist politicians have complained about the use of "separation" instead of independence.

Phrases favoured by the SNP such as "normal European state" are also likely to be discouraged."

Which is a bit like saying "14-18 year old males will be told not to drink Buckfast - and are also likely to be discouraged from attending Barry Manilow concerts". The latter is a worthy precaution, but almost certainly superfluous.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The No campaign's poll backfires : full figures show commanding SNP lead on Holyrood constituency vote

Many thanks to Marcia on the previous thread for alerting me to the proper publication of the notorious "Alistair Darling poll", the full details of which were kept secret for several days, and weren't exactly shouted from the rooftops even when they were published - we can now see why. Here are the full figures for Holyrood and Westminster voting intention...

Holyrood constituency vote :

SNP 43% (+3)
Labour 35% (-1)
Conservatives 12% (-)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-4)
Others 5% (+1)

Holyrood regional list vote :

SNP 36% (-2)
Labour 34% (+2)
Conservatives 13% (-)
Greens 6% (-)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-3)
Others 6% (+2)

Westminster vote :

Labour 40% (-2)
SNP 35% (+5)
Conservatives 14% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-2)
Others 6% (+2)

The most important thing to say is that the fieldwork took place well after the local elections, so the SNP's significant advance on two out of the three counts (and solid result on the other) postdates the rather desperate attempt of certain sections of the media to portray the SNP's historic victory in the local elections as some kind of 'setback'. Evidently that coordinated effort has gained absolutely zero traction with the public - back to the drawing-board for Cochrane and his ilk. Probably the most impressive showing for the SNP is on the Westminster figures - 35% is a full five points higher than their all-time best result in a UK general election in October 1974.

The other thing that leaps out is that the Scottish Lib Dems are in (as Labour's high heid yin on Glasgow City Council might put it) a dehhhh-sperate, dehhhh-sperate position. Heaven only knows how bad things would be if they didn't have such a popular leader.

You might be thinking to yourself - these figures for the SNP are great, but isn't the only thing that matters for now the level of support for independence? Not quite true, actually - it hasn't been mentioned much, but there is still one more test of public opinion to go before the expected referendum date of autumn 2014. The European elections will be held in June of that year.

While I'm thinking of it, one other thing that I noticed when browsing through the YouGov archives was this highly encouraging finding on public attitudes to capital punishment...

The death penalty for murder :

Would like to see return - 46%
Would not like to see return - 43%

I've never believed that majority opinion can overrule the most fundamental of individual human rights (ie. the right to life). But it just goes to show that if a referendum was ever held, it wouldn't be the foregone conclusion that some people assume.