All posts by Elliot J. Cornish

Tony Blair’s strategic move to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

Contrary to popular opinion, Tony Blair is not an idiot – idiots don’t win three general elections. Furthermore, Blair isn’t out of sync with the British people either. A classy manipulator, the former prime minister used his anti-Brexit speech not to orchestrate an uprising against Britain’s departure from the European Union, but to strike a blow closer to home.

Blair’s move is a bold and strategic effort to oust Labour leader and destructor Jeremy Corbyn, by dousing petrol on an already rip-roaring fire.

There’s no coincidence that he gave his high-profile whinge less than a week before two crunch by-elections – one in Copeland, the other in Stoke-on-Trent. The former went 62 percent for Leave while the latter chalked up a whopping 70 percent Brexit vote. Both are, at least for a few more days, Labour-held constituencies. If Blair has his way, neither will be come 24 February.

Why does Blair want Labour to lose? Because two by-election losses by a party in opposition would undoubtedly spell doom for their leader, especially as a Stoke-on-Trent Central defeat equates to a UK Independence Party and Paul Nuttall triumph. With UKIP promising to leech on Labour’s northern, working class vote, a Stoke win would knock the first brick from the wall.

Bookmakers have Copeland trending towards the Tories, while Labour are narrow favourites in Stoke following Nuttall’s Hillsborough gaffe, which is appropriately now old news. In 2015, the combined UKIP-Tory Stoke vote bested Labour, making a purple heist and a first home-grown UKIP parliamentary win realistic.

Blair has no stock as a positive influence – you’ll struggle to find a more loathed British politician, and he’s not blinded by narcissism enough to be unaware. However, being loathed brings a few benefits, not least Blair’s ability to be a negative influence.

With more than two decades’ experience in understanding and capitalising on the public’s psyche, Blair, like President Donald Trump, knows exactly what to say to get exactly what he wants. Give it a fortnight and no one will care what this political has-been said, but for the next few days it’s juicy content.

What better Brexit rallying cry than a detested ex-PM who wants to thwart the will of the British people? It’ll likely be even more effective in Stoke, since immigration concerns are invariably blamed on Blair and Labour. Brexiteers are already cashing in, their obvious narratives sure winners. We may even see a Blair piñata before the show’s over.

It’s unlikely there’d ever be an era suited to a Blair comeback, but you won’t find tougher than this anti-establishment one. But Labour rightly realise that Calamity Corbyn has to go, and anything which can bring that reality closer will be secretly cheered – there’s no way Corbyn critic Tristram Hunt wasn’t aware of the implications when he resigned from Stoke either.

For all the talk of a strong democracy having a strong opposition, the last thing Conservatives and Brexiteers need at this moment is Corbyn’s resignation. His haplessness gives Theresa May and her government the necessary breathing space – and huge polling lead – to handle the country’s trickiest negotiations in generations.

An effective opposition would be primed to cash in on perhaps inevitable Brexit fallout with their vision for the nation. Instead, Corbyn, a closet Brexiter who choked and campaigned to Remain, took months to try and establish his party’s position on the issue – not helped by a poorly-timed leadership contest – before leaving many incandescent after giving May a “blank cheque”.

For Labour, the party’s survival is much more important than backlash from Moany Tony’s speech – short-term pain for long-term gain. If Blair’s blathering compromises Labour next week, Corbyn could be out soon after, starting a difficult but not impossible search for a talented leader in a talentless party.

Brexiteers should hold off on the celebrations for now.

Hollywood infected their brain, now the Left has gone insane

Having ended up on the wrong side of a presidential election won by Donald Trump, you would think that the defeated would thoughtfully assess their future approach, in order to prevent such perceived disaster from striking again.

Alas, not. Just days after Stranger Things’ David Harbour reasserted the concerning and newly popular view that we should “punch Nazis” – without extensive vetting to confirm whether the attacked are, indeed, Nazis – in his SAG Awards speech, the danger of advocating physical assault on national television was realised.

Scene: University of California, Berkeley. Event: Milo Yiannopoulos’ cancelled speech.

They look just like protesters, no no, they’re ‘anti-fascists’, actually they’re just rioters.

The evening of 1 February 2017 was when gay, British right-wing provocateur Yiannopoulos advanced to the big leagues. After these protesters-turned-rioters shut down his event courtesy of ‘anti-fascism’ through violence, Milo had to be evacuated and, as a result, secured unprecedented coverage on primetime US cable news. His initial defeat ultimately proved to be a seismic victory – his biggest yet.

Pro-rioters will now go into deflect mode, moaning about how his free speech wasn’t impeded because he was a a paid speaker at a private event, and that he shouldn’t have been allowed as crybaby students were always going to throw their toys out of the pram over Big Bad Milo. 

But while the Breitbart editor, who is about to see his stock rocket skywards, was the reason for the grisly gathering; the riots weren’t really about the man on the final leg of his Dangerous Faggot Tour. Sorry, Milo. They were an opportunity for immoral losers to repudiate President Trump in the ugliest manner possible.

Opposition to Trump is, of course, perfectly acceptable and, depending on your politics, warranted. Advocating, supporting and glorifying violence – which has seeped from radical Leftist ‘anti-fascist’ land into the mainstream – isn’t.

People were sucker-punched, pepper-sprayed, inefficiently tonked by big poles and subject to tirades of filthy abuse from people who no doubt call themselves tolerant liberals.

Bank windows were smashed, ATMs bashed, and, in an ironic twist, promised refugee-hirer Starbucks ransacked by the sort of people their virtue-signalling was directed at.

And Hollywood is showing itself to be a vehicle for this incandescent movement. While increasingly loathed, the industry’ platform is huge and there are plenty out there who still hinge on stars’ every word. With that power should come responsibility, but it isn’t. Their reaction to Berkeley was not one of abhorrence, but of applause.

Take Judd Apatow, who boasts 1.9 million followers on Twitter. His response to the Berkeley riots, hours after they got under way and when the worst violence was apparent, was to condemn President Trump’s supporters, crowing that they are “fools” and that these chaotic happenings were just “the beginning”.

Not a word against the rioters or destructive actions, nor was there any consideration as to whether people were safe. No, the sheer hatred-at-all-costs from a Left engrossed in volatile radicalism threatens to rip apart the fibres holding American society together. 

The question should be asked of Apatow: if you consider Trump’s rhetoric to be damaging to the nation, Judd, why is your anger not also focussed on those committing actual violence?

Then there’s Debra Messing, who joyously proclaimed that “RESISTANCE WORKS!” and that they should “#NeverStop” upon hearing of the news. Instead of backtracking, she solidified her stance, arguing that such methods were acceptable as we aren’t in “an ideal world”.

I could go on, but you get the point: they aren’t just dirtying the debate, but enabling real-life violence which has real-life consequences. 

It’s also worth remembering hopeless CNN talking head Sally Kohn – who else will? – who had a cold, pre-election take that Trump supporters would be violent in defeat, while Hillary supporters would be “sad”. That aged well. And just imagine, if you will, the response if it were indeed Trumpites wreaking such havoc?

The ferocious vilification of Trump means that, less than a fortnight into his presidency, said violence is being condoned, styled as “resistance” – they believe themselves to be the heroes rising up against oppression, failing to recognise that it is they who are behaving like oppressors.

It’s worth remembering that so far, Trump’s most controversial move is an executive order for a 90-day suspension of immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries flagged up as possible threats by the Obama Administration.

Perhaps things will get worse – and even then, organised violence would not be appropriate – but right now, the impact of spiralling hysteria, energised by Hollywood ‘liberals’, is beginning to unfold.

Trump’s authoritarian tendencies are no secret. Many more nights like in Berkeley and he’ll have sufficient reason to act upon them. His calls for law and order have not gone unheard, and Leftist louts are, inadvertently, playing into hands. He also tweeted and teased, as he does, cutting UC Berkeley’s federal funding.

The sane Left is being swamped by this alt-Left, if you will. Keep feeding a doomsday narrative and the bullies will make the Left even more unelectable, leading middle-grounders fed up of senseless destruction inevitably into the Trump column.

Doubling down on failed, vitriolic tactics is lunacy, and now Hollywood is helping to amplify the loathing to unprecedented levels. Nobody likes Nazis, but some people are idiots – even the ones who aren’t Nazis.

The term, like “racist” and “fascist” has been redefined to simply be a Left-wing descriptor for a political opponent. Hence, their idea of “punching Nazis” has little, if anything, to do with real Nazis, it’s just their little way of justifying political violence – an attempt to normalise it.

And, Berkeley Leftists, a quick reminder: your city voted Democrat and for Hillary Clinton by a huge margin, as did your state. You’ve wrecked your own home – not Kansans, Iowans or Wisconsinites – and what’s more, you won’t be able to buy an overpriced latte in the morning for the time being.

Are you satisfied?

Why I stopped listening to LBC

LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation) does pretty well for itself these days. The UK’s most popular speech radio station has cashed in on the glut of wannabe politicos, who’ve relished in the social media boom to believe they’re more important than they actually are.

If you regularly muse on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr (okay, nobody serious uses Tumblr) you’re guilty of said self-obsession – I know I am. I wish I wasn’t such a narcissist.

One of the most ignored “isms” on the rise, narcissism isn’t shunned because there’s a lot of capital to be made from it. Narcissists tend not to be the smartest eggs but they do fancy themselves, which plays right into LBC’s hands.

LBC loves a narcissist, even more so if they’re an unintelligent one with a big ego, as they can bring in their own big ego host to slap them down, knowing they’ll “win” an argument purely on their debating savvy acquired from hours of droning behind a microphone.

Now, I should point out that it’s not ubiquitous and there are some long-term regular callers who sound thoroughly decent, but they are becoming few and far between.

When you ring into LBC – as I regrettably did on three occasions to talk about the electoral system, the European Union and fat people – you get pre-screened to see whether you’re up to the task. Qualifications, however, seem not to include being smart or having anything original to add to the conversation.

I’m a bit outlandish, a rabble-rouser – you have to be unique, controversial or simply an arse to write for a living nowadays (a combination of all three helps – so I, unwittingly, fit the bill perfectly.

“You simply must hear what this caller had to say about the EU,” their clickbait professional will tweet out. Having a broad Somerset accent would have only added to the circus-like theatre. While none of my calls ever received an ego-satisfying “OMG LISTEN TO THIS” tweet, LBC is usually good for a couple a show. Let’s have a gander at their recent ones:

On 30 January, Iain Dale – who, in fairness, hosts an enjoyable weekday show between 4pm and 7pm – was put up against a fact-free Floridian Trump supporter.

Indeed, Dale himself said that the caller didn’t know what they were talking about. Surely this would have been apparent during pre-screening and they would have recognised this and denied them a spot on air. But no, Sherri from Clearwater, FL, was the perfect low-information Trump fan that they could exploit for, well, not knowing very much.

And then they struck the motherlode – Sherri cut the call. Crazy radio moment: tick. Trump advocate looking like an idiot: tick. Viral material: tick.

If LBC aren’t parading a wacky caller, they’re chucking out bait masquerading as a question to get one on the line.

James O’Brien’s “unmissable reaction” to something – usually Trump or Brexit – will be tweeted, or a deliberately wild quote from new and newish LBC provocateurs, Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins, will be posted. Follow their Twitter feed for a fortnight if you suspect me to be nit-picking.

Don’t get me wrong, radio is better than the telly in the UK as you can say more and get away with more – it’s what makes Fox News and MSNBC appealing to conservative and liberal Americans. Opinionated news and bashful debate is much more attractive than beige reporting which you probably think is biased against you anyway.

That’s why LBC is fun for a bit. If you’re a politics addict – and right now, how could you not be? – the station is mighty enjoyable, at first. But after a few weeks or months you see the flaw: there’s not a lot else to do it.

Listening to LBC’s “debates” will do nothing to improve your knowledge of a topic. With hosts firmly on the Left, staunchly on the Right and a few floating in the centre, there’s not an overall bias issue, just a quality one.

You’ll either be subject to a few minutes of caller-presenter love-in, or a deliberately aggressive battle between two hotheads which is remembered more for insults than substance.

There’s nothing surprising about absurdity on LBC, it’s a stock trait. And once you’ve clocked that they don’t only welcome it, but pre-plan the chaos, the novelty erodes and so does the will to listen.

At least that’s what happened with me.

The Privileged Feminists’ March

Trigger warning: mansplaining

In case you hadn’t heard, and how could you not have with the fawning mainstream media, there was a women’s march in America today and in other countries home to Lefties who love a good protest, but bizarrely, not voting.

They styled themselves as the Resistance, despite having spent eight years cheerleading the man who has just left the White House – very edgy. Anyway, a “women’s march”. What pressing issues facing women around the world could they possibly have tackled? Female genital mutilation (FGM)? Child marriages? The ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia because they may receive sexual gratification from the vibrations?

No, President Trump.

Strange, isn’t it? These are the women who love to bang on about “privilege”, specifically white, male, cisgender privilege. Yet in the midst of placard-waving self-righteousness, they forget their own first world privilege. Instead of fighting the real injustices their fellow gender faces around the globe, they’d rather whine about an elected president who threatens precisely zero of their constitutional rights.

So what are they moaning about? An incident involving the now-regularly correct Piers Morgan came a cropper to a privileged feminist who took umbrage at him referring to her and others as “ladies”. Emily Davison or Emmeline Pankhurst she most certainly isn’t.

One wonders what a woman in Riyadh or Somalia would think of a self-obsessed march focussing on what someone has said rather than done – it’s staggering ignorance and privilege. There is nothing brave or strong about the women marching in America, nor was there anything heroic about Meryl Streep’s anti-Donald Trump speech at the Golden Globes. It’s echo chamber – big echo chamber, granted, but still echo chamber – stuff from people crying to audiences they know will pacify them.

If these women were brave, they would be protesting the likes of FGM. Their “SlutWalks” would take place in the Middle East, not the middle of Los Angeles. That we could simply see their faces at the march is proof they aren’t that oppressed.

Another wildly inaccurate feminist line is that right-wingers only care about women’s rights when it presents a chance to bash Islam. Well, better to be accused of bashing Islam while caring about African and Middle Eastern women than not caring about them at all. And, with militant feminists being one of Christianity’s biggest critics, they can hardly claim to be the guardians of religious liberty.

All of this is even odder considering just a few weeks’ ago the same people were proclaiming how they were “citizens of the world”. To most of them, that means citizens of the predominantly white, liberal world, as they don’t give a jot as to what goes on outside of it. And in their world, the reality is Trump is of little to no danger.

In fact, despite pledging to defund Planned Parenthood – which Lefties, in a protest at Trump, amusingly proved could be privately-funded – the Republican president has praised parts of the organisation and is much more liberal than many in his party are and his former presidential candidates were on women’s healthcare, specifically on abortion. Trump stressed how important he felt it was for the government to fund women’s health issues. Agree or disagree, he’s hardly the enemy. Moreover, his daughter Ivanka is sure to nudge him in a liberal direction if the past 18 months are anything to go on.

Twelve years ago, Trump made filthy, derogatory comments about women, apologised for the words, denied the actions and hasn’t been prosecuted for anything. He has continued to be vulgar, crude and brash, yet on November 8 the New Yorker was elected President of the United States. The “Women’s March”, occurring one day after his inauguration, is a sulky protest at an election that didn’t go their way. Nothing more, nothing less.

Trump may not be a traditional role model, but were there protests against Barack Obama in 2008 when the former president won the White House while opposing same-sex marriage? Were shop windows smashed or conservative journalists pushed around? Of course not. But these protesters, despite the will of their nation (no, the popular vote doesn’t count) aren’t even willing to give the new guy an opportunity.

It’s further indication that the oh-so-tolerant liberals of the Left do not practice what they preach. Comedic talking head Sally Kohn mused before the election that Trump supporters would be violent if their man lost, while Hillary fans would simply be sad. Wrong, again.

Not to mention, many of the “feminists” peddling these marches are as morally bankrupt as they perceive Trump to be. Take the insufferable Laurie Penny for example. During the inauguration, she felt the need to bring up her period on Twitter, claiming that it “started with a vengeance” during the speech. As well as filing that into the “Things that Never Happened” folder, Laurie shows that she’s not exactly a role model either.

It doesn’t matter how many turned up to the march. It doesn’t matter how many signed your stupid petition. It doesn’t matter how many snarky comments you make. It doesn’t matter how many times Trump is “absolutely destroyed by John Oliver”. It doesn’t matter that you’re wearing a silly-looking pink pussy hat. Nothing will matter until you leave your “the world is against me” bubble.

America hates women so much that it enabled one to become nominee for president – even one as useless as Hillary Clinton. Saudi Arabia hates women so much that they all have male guardians, only one in eight work and they are told how to dress.

But keep imploding about your new president who said mean things, you privileged cry-babies.

Michael van Gerwen fires fantasy darts in performance for the ages

Picking the correct adjectives is essential when describing sport – labelling every significant moment “fantastic” or “great” just serves to devalue your lexicon. Very rarely do we see the stuff of fantasy that would equate to being fantastic, or an act of true greatness. We have to find ways of separating the highest tiers of brilliance in sport, or we cannot do them justice.

Last night Michael van Gerwen was fantastic. Last night Michael van Gerwen was great. Raymond van Barneveld fell barely short of both descriptors, yet he was still hammered 6-2 in the PDC World Championship semi-final by his ruthless Dutch counterpart.

Yes, van Gerwen’s romp was nearly 10 points shy of his imperfect – yes, imperfect – 123.40 world record average, but you cannot compare eight exhibition legs with eight of the hugest sets in darts. This semi-final showing was the best performance of all-time, beating a subjective honour previously bestowed upon Phil Taylor for his 7-1 thrashing of van Barneveld in the 2009 world final, where his average nudged 111.

Here comes the van Gerwen stats barrage: the highest ever average in a World Championship match 114.05 – almost three points superior to Taylor’s destruction of Shayne Burgess in 2002 –15 180s, 29 140s and a further cluster of big scores utilising the treble 19. Compared to van Barneveld’s two-out-of-three doubling, the 26-year-old was found wanting, but he still nailed more than half of his attempts. Oh, and he missed double 12 for a nine-darter too.

Barring Barney, the least enchanted by this darting wizardry was van Gerwen himself, who espoused the same brutal and commendable honesty he has for weeks. Some call it arrogance, that it may be, but we all know it’s what he’s thinking, and we’re thinking it too. Should he not win seven sets before Gary Anderson does and lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on Monday evening, the year will go down as a failure for Mighty Mike. Beating van Barneveld was another step towards that goal, the manner of it was just a happy little bonus, and something he won’t dwell on or coo over – the rest of us can do that.

Van Gerwen’s stunning second-half assault makes it easy to forget that for the first four sets this match was looking like a classic to end all classics. One constant of this famous rivalry has been van Barneveld’s feisty fight, a trait he has invariably brought to this contest even if it’s been sorely missing elsewhere – last year’s World Championship scalp is well-documented, but the less-talked about 2012 Grand Slam of Darts final is an exquisite example too.

Van Barneveld, seeking a first TV title in more than five years ran into a rampant young protagonist finally finding his feet in the PDC. Van Gerwen had blown away the field, including Phil Taylor, and was seeking a second PDC major to go with his first at the World Grand Prix a month prior, and he was the undeniable favourite to claim it.

But the elder Dutch boss hadn’t read the script. Clutch 180s and key finishes tormented a van Gerwen who just wanted to bulldoze, but he was unable too. Nerves crept in for van Barneveld near the end, but he banished them with a match-winning 11-darter against the throw to pinch the tournament 16-14. For four sets on Sunday we were seeing that same resolve, but in overload.

It was the best van Barneveld, a veteran of more than two decades and a winner of five world championships, had ever played on television, and it came because van Gerwen is the only man able to extract such darts from him. Not even Taylor could inspire Barney to this standard – in fact, after a while, he would rather quit than battle.

In terms of this match, van Gerwen started like a sloth, as van Barneveld cruised to the opening set 3-0 with a settling 107 and a gorgeous 131. All doubts surrounding which RvB would turn up following his long overdue scalp of tormenter Taylor 48 hours earlier diminished.

Red-hot Ray was in an even meaner mood after the break, sinking a never-in-doubt 160 to break – van Gerwen, who was waiting on 25, cast a slightly stunned look but was unperturbed. Then came the most crucial leg of the match, and had van Barneveld won it, he would have taken a commanding two-set lead. But he was never winning it, despite being on double 12 after 12 darts thrown.

Bish, bash, bosh. Triple 20, single 14, double 20 for MvG. A 12-darter, a break, a set back on throw and a dagger in the heart of his opponent. Van Barneveld positioned himself on the same double in the deciding fifth leg after four visits – once again, he never got a shot.

The bizarre was happening at Alexandra Palace. The averages were north of 110, the crowd were watching darts, and ‘Chase the Sun’ had been shunned for ‘Freed from Desire’.

Van Gerwen whizzed to the third set flinging yet more fire, but he was kept honest by his adversary, who pinned a routine 127 effortlessly on his way to levelling the scores after the Green Machine missed tops for a 94 that was, in the context of this match, a blink.

With no precedent for such mastery, one wondered whether the pummelling would eventually tell on somebody. It surely had to, and it did. Van Gerwen, somehow, got better while van Barneveld lost a couple of percentage points – but it was no more than that. MvG didn’t run riot for fun in the latter sets, he did so because he had to. The ageing Dutch master was nipping at his heels throughout, and even flirted at a comeback in the eighth set, before being savagely snuffed out.

A gutted van Barneveld oozed class in a beautifully miserable interview in the backroom after. He was devastated, not in awe. He couldn’t give a jot that he averaged 109 or played in the most mind-boggling match of all-time. Why give a valiant loss the time of the day when you’ve been crowned five times? Van Barneveld and van Gerwen have the same champion brain – there’s no substitute to this tournament and being successful in it.

It’s why van Barneveld has reached the semi-final at this event four times in the last five while generally being a pale shadow elsewhere. He doesn’t care about the rest. Victory in the Premier League was nice but it’s a mere career footnote.

For van Gerwen, oodles of expectation will be on him versus Anderson, who has staved off 11 World Championship challenges as the hunted – however, the 12th will be the Scot’s toughest by far. If van Gerwen has an outing remotely similar to the semi-final, Anderson will have to be more powerful and clinical than ever before. A rubbish cliché, granted, but it is true: if anyone can do it, he can.

The third and possibly deciding part of the Michael van Gerwen-Gary Anderson World Championship saga promises everything. The former won the first but invigorated the latter’s career in doing so, and Anderson repaid the favour 12 months’ later on his way to his first world title.

The darting world awaits a showdown usually only sports entertainment can provide. Buckle up.

Two years on, what to make of the PDC’s monster?

Two years ago I wrote an article on why I considered the Professional Darts Corporation’s decision to sell its events as a party rather than a sport was a gamble. Safe to say, the piece attracted a lot of attention – around 10,000 reads, about 70 percent of the total views this blog has garnered in two and a half years.

The response was mixed, although it was more positive than not, and as it’s still applicable, the post continues to receive comments today – especially at World Championship time. With a lot of water under the bridge, now is the appropriate time to revisit it. Much I continue to believe, although a few comments were admittedly slightly naïve.

In suggesting the PDC has become slaves to a monster, I dare say the past 24 months have vindicated that. Crowds have worsened, so much so that we now hear as many football chants as darts ones, while it sometimes feels as if few would notice if the players just packed up and walked off, given the backdrop behind the players is often a sea of backs instead of faces.

There’s nothing that can be done about this now. Indeed, referees seem to realise the once customary “thank you” is as useful as a Kevin Painter lesson in bottle. That’s the route they’ve gone down and it’s fair to say we’re not near the tipping point yet. A night at the darts remains mighty appealing, even if a night watching the darts doesn’t. With more – albeit anecdotal – evidence that I’ve had from people who say they no longer attend PDC events because of the crowd situation, it’s inevitable that things will keep moving in this direction.

Sadly the PDC revels in drunken tomfoolery. During Wednesday afternoon’s second-round session, the corporation’s official Twitter page shared a GIF of somebody taking a “PINT TO THE FACE!!!” – along with that god-awful crying with laughter emoji –before later deleting it after copious criticism. I cannot think of any other sport that not only allows its spectators to behave like idiots, but actively endorses it.

Any attempts to exercise crowd control are fruitless – they will do what they like when they like and make a lot of noise while doing it. And, as far as the PDC’s finances are concerned, that’s fine for now. But there are undeniably sustainability questions – surrounding having a darts crowd that isn’t there to watch darts – that will become pertinent eventually, although it’s hard to say when. What could change things is a serious kick-off at a UK event that makes headlines outside darts – the likelihood of that seems about as improbable but not impossible as it has ever been.

All of this gloom isn’t to say darts hasn’t made some huge strides, and my comment that the World Championships should have stayed at the Circus Tavern was a mistake borne out of pernicious nostalgia. It was a special place (sort of) and it’s a shame it’s not used for anything, but looking back, moving was the correct decision.

Purfleet’s finest was never the Crucible or a second Lakeside. Ultimately, the Circus was merely a venue that happened to stage darts’ most iconic match as its last World Championship salvo. With darts bidding for the big time, it wasn’t worth saving. The deteriorating atmosphere over the past decade hasn’t been caused by the change in arena, but by the PDC’s refusal to firmly stamp out the nonsense behaviour when it started.

Painting the PDC a “bleak long-term future” was clumsy. There’s plenty of reason to believe, with the growing European market at least, that further expansion is likely and forthcoming. Shipping a big major, ideally the World Grand Prix over to the Netherlands or Germany seems a logical step with the Citywest Hotel in Dublin having the most trouble filling the hall up of late.

That pretty much falls in line with what I said at the time, although it’s slightly bizarre that aside from now hosting a Premier League night, the Dutch are still being ignored. Encouragingly, folk out there and across the continent – while in for a good time – appear to care about what’s happening on the board too.

I still reckon the PDC will have long-term problems keeping its product fresh in the UK, but with other countries chomping at the bit, the organisation should stay in rude health providing it harnesses that potential. Finding a marketable replacement for Phil Taylor will be the bigger challenge.

Nobody has the lure of the Power, not even Michael van Gerwen. Taylor’s world finals against van Gerwen and Anderson in 2013 and 2015 respectively brought in around 1.2 million viewers apiece. Contrast that to the 668,000 who tuned in for van Gerwen versus Peter Wright in 2014, and the 908,000 who switched on for Gary Anderson’s title retention against Adrian Lewis last year. If nothing else, it’s a warning signal, as was the PDC’s foray onto the BBC back in September – despite getting the showpiece Taylor-van Gerwen final, fewer than one million watched it.

So, all in all, I’d like to think I’ve largely been proven right, despite being a tad heavy-handed in certain areas. The PDC has certainly created a monster, but for now, it’s a stable one, and they should be able to keep it so for a while yet. For real fans, who enjoyed going to the darts to watch the darts – such a novel concept – the long-term future is indeed bleak. Darts sold itself to reach new heights, and Barry Hearn concluded neglecting his core, dedicated audience in favour of a wild, carefree gang was for the greater good. Time will tell whether he’s right.

The Left created Nigel ‘Man of the People’ Farage

Yet again, the ever-desperate Left thought they landed a punch on Nigel Farage, only to end up swinging at thin air. His crime this time? Having a customary Farage-like jolly at the traditional Boxing Day hunt. “Bit Establishment isn’t it?” they crowed. “Not much of a man of the people is your Nige, is he?” they scoffed.

A self-confessed Faragista, it came as no surprise to me. It was just Farage being Farage.

The Left never has found a way to properly tackle Farage, for they have consistently failed to understand his appeal. Since rising to prominence post-2010, Farage has suffered just a solitary political defeat: his bid to become an MP in Thanet South in 2015 – and even that’s under investigation for overspending. 

He led UKIP to an unprecedented victory in the 2014 European elections and to nearly four million votes in the 2015 general election. He was then instrumental in the Leave side’s – despite being ostracised from the official campaign – triumph in the 2016 EU referendum, before capping off the year predicting and quasi-endorsing US president-elect Donald Trump.

How has he managed it? Farage is the most ridiculed and laughed at politician in the UK. Want a cheap laugh? Attack Farage, the former city trader now masquerading as a ‘man of the people’. What a joker.

Except that’s not the Farage voters see. Why? Because what they consider a Farage gaffe – being pictured at the hunt, having his photo taken next to a Margaret Thatcher portrait, standing in front of Trump’s golden elevator – aren’t gaffes at all. It’s just Farage playing a straight bat. Those who scorned and sneered at him simultaneously did so at a millions-strong demographic, who were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Much like Trump, Farage doesn’t pretend to be somebody he’s not. Trump chats like a brash blue-collar New Yorker, yet grasps at every opportunity and non-opportunity to inform you how insanely rich he is. Farage, on the other hand, doesn’t – and has never tried – to hide that he’s an old-style Tory who enjoyed his younger years trading metals as a city boy, supports relaxing handgun laws and, indeed, loves a good old-fashioned hunt.

It’s that honesty which people appreciate, warts and all. They aren’t bothered that he’s not ‘one of them’, but they do care that he’s speaking to them, and addressing genuine concerns – the EU, immigration and more – that have been long ignored. Few politicians can smoke and drink as comfortably as Farage because it’s not in their nature to do so. It’s not an act – it’s just Farage being Farage. The Left overthink it, seeing pubbing and beer-swilling as a pre-planned photo-op. In reality, it’s just a good chance to have a break and talk with the locals – a novel idea, right?

He has always been the same; even during the times when backing him was viewed as a bizarre hobby instead of a cult obsession. It’s a realness that has permeated deeply among the electorate.

UKIP’s growing presence in the north of England is a direct result of the old Labour vote finally having somebody who at least speaks to them. For decades they’ve been considered a given, line-toers. Hence, they’ve been forgotten. Then, when their cross on the ballot finally mattered once more, they shocked Westminster and the world by securing Brexit.

It was Farage who harnessed that vote. Nobody else had the knowhow. Charisma helps and he does have buckets of it, but it was shunning the politician’s filter that proved most vital to winning his battles.

Farage doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t, that’s just a failed Left tactic to rebuke him. “He’s not one of you!” says the politician or pundit who sure isn’t one of them. Who would you trust, a person who’s dared to slingshot your issues into the limelight, or a person who’s spent years trying to suppress them?

Democrat Joe Biden nailed it when reminiscing recently about an old quote from his father:  “I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect them to understand it.” That was Biden’s astute reasoning as to why Hillary Clinton lost.

If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that populism is a beautiful thing, not a nasty beast. Like all movements, there’s going to be the odd ugly offspring, but it stimulates political debate and moves the conversation to where voters want it – that can only be a good thing. Contrary to exposed talking heads, Trump couldn’t have disgusted folk that much. He won after all. Meanwhile, the EU referendum garnered the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since 1992.

Whether Farage or Trump end up being right remains to be seen – the respective triggers have been pulled, now we must wait. But in Farage’s case at least, that his opposition preferred pillaging him over his stances explains why they are now so regularly defeated – it was that same-old swinging at thin air.

The modern-day Left could never have beaten Nigel Farage, because their pantomime villain version of him never existed. However, the real Nigel Farage is the realest, realest. He dropped Brexit and let the whole world feel it. And ironically, in doing so, perhaps he really has become a man of the people.