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.

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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.

The Twelve Days of Brexit

On the first day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, a country that’s once again free.

On the second day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the third day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the fourth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the fifth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the sixth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the seventh day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, seven packs of Rothmans, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the eighth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, eight Vote Leave buses, seven packs of Rothmans, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the ninth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, nine Question Time appearances, eight Vote Leave buses, seven packs of Rothmans, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the tenth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, ten Pepe memes, nine Question Time appearances, eight Vote Leave buses, seven packs of Rothmans, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the eleventh day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, eleven fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, ten Pepe memes, nine Question Time appearances, eight Vote Leave buses, seven packs of Rothmans, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

On the twelfth day of Brexit Nigel gave to me, twelve sneering metropolitan elites, eleven fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, ten Pepe memes, nine Question Time appearances, eight Vote Leave buses, seven packs of Rothmans, six triggered Lefties, five pints of ale… four furious bureaucrats, three crying journalists, two populist shocks and a country that’s once again free.

 

 

 

A list of everybody who absolutely destroyed Donald Trump in 2016

​Donald J. Trump really has been the gift that’s kept on giving over the past 18 months. His presidential bid was literally hilarious and provided all of the highly-respected late-night liberal TV hosts a never-ending wealth of material that could be condensed – either daily or weekly –  into YouTube clips and shared across social media.

Trump’s brash, triggering style, which earned him widespread condemnation from our favourite Hollywood stars and paved the way for Hillary Clinton’s storming victory in the popular vote.

Here’s a list of everybody who absolutely destroyed Donald Trump in 2016:

The end.

Sleaford and North Hykeham: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

It’s a stunning indictment of our current politics that UKIP finishing a poor second in a by-election is more noteworthy than Labour ending up in fourth. But that’s what happened in Sleaford and North Hykeham as the Conservatives cruised to a comfortable 40-point victory on a 37 percent turnout on Thursday night.

It was a nice win for the Tories, who secured a rare by-election triumph while in government, made even better by the disarray plaguing the rest. Their candidate, Caroline Johnson, was expected to be tested by UKIP’s Victoria Ayling in an area where 61 percent voted for Brexit, but the challenge failed to materialise with the latter managing a low 13.5 percent – a 2.2-percent decline on the party’s performance at the last general election.

UKIP will undoubtedly spin the result and celebrate jumping Labour, but it was a dire effort in a seat where they were hoping to at least run the Conservatives close. Opinion polls have had them holding firm between 10 and 15 percent despite a dreadful few months and the departure of Nigel Farage, but the steady support has yet to translate into electoral success, or even hints of it.

Without being on the ground it’s tough to ascertain exactly went wrong, but one constant is Ayling, who also failed to make an impact in Great Grimsby in 2015, a constituency UKIP firmly believed they could win – she ended up third, behind Labour and the Conservatives, albeit increasing the party’s vote share by almost 19 percent.

Stability finally seems to be coming to UKIP with Paul Nuttall’s election as leader, and the debate will undoubtedly shift back their way if the Brexit process is messy, but they have dropped the ball since 23 June, to the Tories’ delight.

More woe for Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has enjoyed some friendly elections since becoming Labour leader, from safe by-elections to the London mayoral election which was won by Sadiq Khan earlier this year. Such wins have emboldened Corbynites who believe their man is miscast and more popular than conventional wisdom says.

However, this vote, along with last week’s by-election in Richmond Park – where they failed to even save their deposit – should provide a shuddering reality check. In Sleaford and North Hykeham, candidate Jim Clarke tallied just 10.2 percent – a 7.1 percent slip on 2015 – and was fewer than 500 votes from being pushed into fifth by the Lincolnshire Independents.

Labour’s Brexit dilemma is worsened by the party’s rural-urban divide which threatens its electoral existence. With many Labour constituencies in the north supporting Britain’s succession from the European Union, and a leader who has historically been keener for it than Prime Minister Theresa May, there’s reason to believe they’d benefit from embracing it – at least that would give them somebody to speak for.

They certainly aren’t going to be the party for Remainers, as Richmond Park showed. The Liberal Democrats have their tanks on that ground, but their 11 percent on less-friendly territory suggests talk of their resurgence has been greatly exaggerated. Indeed, with Richmond Park voting 70 percent to Remain, it could be argued that the Lib Dems’ 49 percent in the by-election was below par.

A further test for Labour will come in Leigh should Andy Burnham win the Greater Manchester mayoral election. Nuttall is being touted to stand in the by-election, which will indicate whether the party really can bash Labour in their heartlands.

Tories cash in on rivals’ incompetence

May has repeatedly said Article 50 will be activated before the end of March 2017, so she and her party has until then before the waters start getting choppy – and they’re cashing in on it. Sleaford and North Hykeham was always set to be a good barometer on how Leavers felt the Brexit process was being handled, and 53 percent strikes as a solid approval.

It’s not all to the Tories’ credit, however. With their rivals looking decidedly hopeless, their job right now is hardly difficult. Despite having a narrow working majority in the Commons, they face no apparent danger from anywhere – not bad for a party that was supposed to tear itself to shreds over the referendum.

If there were any concerns for May, their easy win on Thursday should alleviate them. Christmas has come early for her and, with the abysmal state of the rest, gifts could be pouring in for a while yet.

Liberals, it’s time to wake the hell up

It’s not in my political interest to write this piece. I know that if you had your way you would deem this article as “hate speech” and prevent it from being published. Nobody is taking more delight in your hilarious meltdown than me.

It thrills me that your left-wing agendas are being thwarted by electorates across the globe. But to prevent one-party states and to at least give us a challenge, I come to you with this message: liberals, it’s time to wake the hell up and get out of your pathetic safe space.

Your smaller-than-thought clique has had a pretty rotten 2016, hasn’t it? Well, do you know what? Most of us are having a darn good 2016 because we’re running you muppets into the ground. Brexit happened, and now President Trump has happened, and you’re throwing one big, fat, beautiful temper tantrum.

Hell, besides not having a confirmed war hawk in the White House, Trump’s ascendancy is irrelevant to me. He’s not going to impact my life, but if it stops your oppressive, shaming manifesto from gaining traction, I’ll revel in it.

“I don’t know anyone who voted for Brexit,” said British liberals. “I don’t know anyone who voted for Trump,” said American liberals. “Je ne- I don’t know anyone who voted for Le Pen,” French liberals could well end up saying next May.

Why? Two reasons. First, you’re living in a self-imposed echo chamber. You read the articles you know you’ll agree with, post statuses you know your left-wing friends will like, and follow those preaching from the same songbook, all for confirmation bias. If you coddle yourself with comforting views you’ll be fine, right?

And secondly, because you prefer shutting down those you disagree with, instead of engaging in fierce, political arguments. It’s time to end this nonsense that “college-educated” people know better than the rest, when your modus operandi is to ban right-wing speakers from appearing at your universities. Graduates are now college-indoctrinated, not college-educated.

You think it helps you but it doesn’t. Brexit won by four percent, Trump by a mere few thousand in Pennsylvania and Michigan, the states that pushed him past 270. That’s close. Had you not pissed off so many people, you might have been able to stop both.

You created Trump. If things were going swimmingly, do you really think 60 million would have been prepared to take a chance on a brash, political novice? Trump is clever, not a buffoon. Reality TV stars know what people want, and Trump realised people were sick to death of political correctness and the politicians who abide by it because, God forbid, you be upset and start a petition against them.

You hate the term “social justice warrior”. Well, we hate being called racist, sexist, misogynist, and any other “ist” that you slap on us. We’re now at the stage where we don’t bother defending ourselves from your filth. We’d rather laugh at you, beat you at the ballot box, drink your tears and share memes of Pepe the Frog instead.

Too alt-right for you? Cry more.

The minorities you supposedly speak for detest your guts too. They aren’t your pets and they certainly don’t need your help. For all the talk of Trump being the big bogeyman, he outperformed the previous Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney with both blacks and Hispanics. Oh, and those women we were told Trump offended big league, they didn’t break to the Democratic candidate any more than they usually do either.

Let’s also consider how Trump won the Electoral College. He won six key states that Barack Obama won twice: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. The math alone is indicative that there must have been a considerable number of Obama-Trump crossovers, nullifying the idea of a racist backlash.

As with nearly all of your “arguments”, they fall down like a house of cards as soon as somebody bothers to give them scrutiny.

You’re now at rock bottom. Britain is leaving the European Union, Donald Trump is going to be the next Leader of the Free World and continental Europe could elect Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and Alternative for Deutschland within the next 12 months. If your Dutch, French and German counterparts continue down this insane track, all three could easily end up in charge of their respective nations. And you’ll be asking yourself “How did this happen?” yet again.

I hope this big, fat micro-aggression triggered your poor little Tumblr soul to death. I hope you are now ready to go and grab political debate by the pussy.

But if you don’t, it doesn’t bother me. Why? Because I’m winning, and you’re not.

Photo source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_12.jpg

Donald Trump’s route to 270 is fiendish, but he only needs 269 – and here’s how he could do it

It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes is much tougher than Hillary Clinton’s. Simply nailing down Pennsylvania and one of Florida, North Carolina or Ohio would effectively block Trump’s route to the White House.

However, there’s one caveat hardly anyone seems to be considering, and it could just be pivotal. Trump doesn’t need a path to 270, just to 269 – and there’s a realistic set of states that can get him there.

A 269-269 tie would result in an electoral college deadlock, at which point the House of Representatives would pick the next president, while the Senate would choose the next vice president.

Let’s make two assumptions: one, that the House will still belong to the GOP after the election (a near certainty), and that two, that GOP House would make Trump president should they get the opportunity (yes, I know it’s 2016, but surely, surely they would).

Anyway, enough wonky politics and what-ifs, and into the mathematics.

Since Clinton’s route is so easy, it’s much more revealing to focus solely on how Trump could defeat her – well, tie it up. Providing nothing bizarre happens and The Donald keeps Texas, Georgia and Arizona (a state that’s in true toss-up territory but would likely go Trump’s way should he win the other states needed for this avenue) in the red column, he would have 191 electoral votes.

Iowa, the Hawkeye State, will perhaps be Trump’s easiest state to win that Romney failed to. Polls have consistently shown the GOP nominee leading and, although he has slipped, the slight movement back toward him late on should be enough to win here. That’s 197.

Head eastwards to the Buckeye State of Ohio and Trump has 18 electoral votes that have trended his way, narrowly, for a while. Despite not securing the support of the state’s Republican governor, John Kasich, he has eked out a small edge of around one or two points over Clinton. Flipping this Obama-won state seems more likely than not. That’s 215.

Down to the Panhandle and the Sunshine State of Florida. The prize? A mighty 29 electoral votes in the increasingly diverse state. A notorious election-decider, Florida has swayed back and forth intriguingly during this election cycle.

Both Trump and Clinton secured thumping wins in their respective primaries, and are now neck-and-neck in the polls seven days out. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll gave Trump a four-point lead, while an NBC/WSJ/Marist poll put Clinton one point up. If the FBI bombshell does indeed harm Clinton, Trump may reap the rewards. That’s 244.

North Carolina was won by Romney in 2012 by two percent, but it’s a state that Trump is having significant difficulty with. The early voting has given off blurry signals but the polling has hinted at a Clinton win (as of November 1, she has a 3.3-point advantage according to RealClearPolitics.

A big turnout for Trump on Election Day, and the Tar Heel State has a large number of independents which will likely determine it, and he, like Romney, could tip the Cinton-leaning scales post-early voting. Humour me and make this assumption, and that’s 259.

These scoops would still put Trump 10 short of the tie, taking his quest to Colorado, the 420 blaz… Centennial State, where nine more votes are up for grabs. The Clinton camp thought Colorado was in the bag months back and pulled advertising, allowing Trump to drastically close the gap.

A calamitous early-to-mid October arrested Democrat concerns but the state isn’t a guarantee, with a CBS/YouGov poll putting Clinton just three points up in the sparsely-polled state. Recent Remington Research findings have her one point ahead, although this pollster is Republican aligned. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac poll conducted more than a fortnight ago had Clinton’s lead at eight. In short, the polling is a mess, but points toward a small to medium HRC win, yet with limited confidence.

Ballots are already being mailed in and Trump has also been pressing hard recently there. Colorado is a tough task, but it looks far more viable than the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin paths being touted by talking heads. If he does complete the heist then that’s 268. One short.

They do things differently up in the Pine Tree State of Maine (and Nebraska too, for that matter). While two electoral votes are available for a statewide win, one additional vote is given to the winner of the state’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts. The limited polling indicates Trump is a good bet for the latter. Things have been volatile and his prospects are nowhere near as bright as in September, where he enjoyed double-digit leads, but it definitely looks doable. And if he does, that’s 269 and likely the presidency.

Fail that, and Nevada’s six electoral votes could nudge him north of 270.

trump-269

It’s a thin, treacherous tightrope and one Trump has a greater chance of falling off than walking across, but it offers a glimmer of hope that the proposed Rust Belt strategy doesn’t seem to. Barring a big polling error, foreseeable in these Brexit times of course, in Pennsylvania or Michigan (which missed Bernie Sanders’ primary win by 20 points), that route looks blocked for Trump.

Anyway, back to the original premise: the idea that 269 being enough for Trump could make all the difference. It’d be bizarre, wacky, unprecedented and bonkers. But has there been a more bizarre, wacky, unprecedented and bonkers election than 2016?

 

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