Hello and thanks for reading, as always.
This week’s column begins with a hot political topic from last week’s by-election – and it’s an important one for both parties and punters alike. Enjoy – and Think Green…
Green Is The Colour
It’s been a week since the by-election results, all of which provided very different lessons for the three main parties in UK politics. The most talked about result of the three by some distance has been Uxbridge, where the Tories defied polls and the betting markets to hold off the Labour charge of Danny Beales.
The defeat came at the hands of one issue – the expansion of ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) from the inner areas of London to it’s outer districts, where the car is more relied upon and upgrading is likely to be harder for those whose vehicles do not comply with the standards.
Whilst the by-election defeat would have been a rare boost for the Tories and a setback for Labour, both parties are in danger of taking the wrong lessons from this result, which was a very slim Tory hold in a seat Labour couldn’t win during the Blair years and also a constituency with more reliance upon cars than other areas in London.
In the aftermath, Labour have abandoned support for ULEZ, with Starmer handing the buck to Khan whilst other senior figures have also declined to give the plans backing. Meanwhile, senior Conservative figures have suggested that rowing back on green polices could boost their chances at the next election, albeit with some pushback from figures such as Zac Goldsmith.
Considering the dire state of the climate at the moment – ask the Greeks and Italians how they’re enjoying their summer – it’s no surprise that almost two-thirds (64%) of adults in Great Britain said they were worried (somewhat or very) about the impact of climate change in the past 12 months according to the ONS.
Environmental concerns have grown considerably over the past decade, with voters in favour of green policies such as Net Zero, many moving to electric or hybrid cars, and changing their own consumption habits as they become ever more aware of environmental concerns.
It should be remembered that in Uxbridge, around 14,000 vehicles are considered too old for ULEZ – more than all votes received for the now MP Steve Tuckwell. But as many analysts will tell you, not every seat is an Uxbridge, and both parties should remain well aware of how important green issues will be.
After all, two thirds of voters who supported the Tories at the last election but are currently intending to move to Labour, believe that Rishi Sunak isn’t doing enough to increase the use of renewable energy in the UK – and both parties will need all of those voters to win at the next election…
X Marks The Spot
As I’m sure you know, Elon Musk’s latest move – a sentence I always hate writing, seeing, or even thinking about – has been to rebrand Twitter, one of the most recognisable brands in the entire world, to ‘X’, a letter that Musk has been obsessed with since the 1990’s, to little success.
In true Musk fashion, the plan to change from Twitter (which I feel compelled to remind readers is 17 years old and so ingrained in everyday life that ‘tweet’ is a verb in the Oxford Dictionary) was announced just five days ago, inviting users to submit a logo that he would find suitable.
Low and behold someone had a suggestion – which turned out to be a Unicode character, meaning Twitter probably doesn’t own it – and the next day the change was made.
Whilst trying to see into Musk’s mind is a challenge beyond most, one has to ask two questions.
If you knew you were going to make this change, then why not plan properly for a big launch that would be more impressive?
If your plan is for X to be the centre of the internet, have Meta (a platform with posts of all kinds, linked payments and a competitor to Twitter’s direct posting?) not beaten you to the punch?
With scarily high debt repayments for Twitter – which has seen total collapses in revenue since Musk’s disastrous takeover – looming large, website issues plaguing both desktop and app users, and many users leaving or scaling back their time, it remains to be seen if the platform’s still standing when Musk attempts to bring his 20-year dream to life.
This platform will soon only have “dark mode”. It is better in every way.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 27, 2023
Start Early, Start Often
As I write this, England are 195-5 in the fifth and final Ashes test. It’s a game which means a lot to both sides – these tests always do – but the stakes could be even greater had it not been for the rain which scuppered an almost sure-fire England win at Old Trafford, which would have made this series the decider with the series set at 2-2.
There’s been much talk about how to deal with inclement weather, with plenty recommending the use of reserve days (which the ICC use for the World Test Championship Final). Whilst these are not easy logistical solutions – one needs to think about broadcasters, staff, disruption to the general area and travel plans) – even in the tightest of series it could be worth having as an option going forward.
Another solution – mooted by Joe Root amongst others – would seem to be more practical, which is an earlier start the next day to make up for lost play.
Beginning at 10am would allow an extra 20 overs to fit in, assuming weather was cooperative, and such a solution would be easier than extending play past 7.30pm (something which I am not opposed to, although it’s hard to imagine widespread support for changing to a pink ball when bad light takes hold).
Indeed, an earlier start would be a help to the nagging problem of slow over rates, which have blighted this series and others, and with more cricket played during the day, everyone would surely be happier. What’s not to like?
Third Time A Charm?
The much-maligned Racing League – a competition I defended a couple of years ago – returns tonight for its third edition.
The format has struggled – the teams haven’t caught on and the crowds have been dire – but it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that tonight on a Thursday evening connections will get to race in 7 contests that are worth at least £25,000 (with the finale being worth £100,000) in prize money, whilst every race has at least 8 runners, all of whom will be making every effort for the points on offer.
Whilst it remains to be seen if the League can turn into a success – that appears unlikely based on what we’ve seen so far – it might be worth reflecting on the product it gives both punters, connections, and bookmakers, which is what all sides are constantly asking for.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.