Wednesday, 21 December 2011

My Villain of the Year

It's that time of year again when we award the achievers of 2011, in other words we honour the good, the bad and the downright evil! And what a year it has been, to use a phrase beloved of Louis Walsh on X-Factor, "This could be the most competitive year ever, I just can't call it!"

I will announce the Villain of the Year today and tomorrow our Man or Woman of the Year so that we can finish on a high note before Christmas.

Without further ado then, my first nomination is a man who has turned the headquarters of world football into an episode of The Sopranos. Sepp Blatter was re-elected this year as President of FIFA in an election so rigged and ridiculous it would have shamed North Korea. That he continues to bestride the world game and make absurd public statements amply explains why international football is dying on its feet.

Monumental PR cock-up of the year goes to the Church of England. That it failed to find parallels in the scriptures with the Occupy Movement's entirely peaceful protest outside St Paul's is remarkable. That it continues to stand side-by-side with the moneylenders beggars belief.

The big media story this year has been phone hacking and it has thrown up a cast of characters who have lied, obfuscated and stabbed each other in the back. James Murdoch has amply illustrated why he is unfit to run a public company, whilst Rebekah Brooks has mercifully departed public life. The Big Daddy of them all, Rupert, remains in place, but his appearance in front of the Select Committee suggests his time is drawing to a close.

There is one other individual involved in this story who deserves special mention. When he appeared in front of the Leveson Inquiry Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, completely misjudged the tone of the proceedings and was exceptionally rude, arrogant and aggressive towards the judge and his inquiry. One suspects he will get his comeuppance when Leveson reports next year.

2012 is a big year in American politics, it's just that the Grand Ol' Party hasn't realised yet. The cast of non-entities declared in the Republican race range from the barking mad, Michelle Bachmann, through to yesterday's man, Newt Gingrich, and the transparently not up to the job, Rick Perry. The one half-decent candidate, Mitt Romney, is not acceptable to the Republican base because he is a Mormon. What has happened to the party of Abraham Lincoln?

On the subject of politics, Europe's political leaders have this year covered themselves in failure. I've lost count of the number of EU Summits which have cost millions but made not one iota of difference to the European sovereign debt crisis. Chief protagonists are Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel who are putting the livelihoods of millions at stake in order to carve out positions for themselves in upcoming national elections.

Colonel Gaddafi would have been a prime candidate for Villain of the Year, but I am opposed to posthumous awards and must therefore highlight the role of another Middle Eastern despot. He has steadfastly refused to read the writing on the wall and has set the army on his own people, to date killing more than 5,000. Of equal concern is his impact on the Middle Eastern peace process. Henry Kissinger once said that, "you can't make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can't make peace without Syria." We all know how this one is going to end, it's just a question of when and how much bloodshed it will take.

My Villain of the Year is President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.


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