19 Jul 2013 14:19:50

Brandon Lewis sums up good government in a sentence

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter.

A short snippet from Hansard yesterday catches my attention. Local Government minister Brandon Lewis was taking questions on the new DCLG plan to reward members of staff for identifying savings in the department:

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

(1) when he instituted a scheme to reward his Department's staff with shopping vouchers for ideas on departmental savings; who will decide on such awards; and when they will be made; 

(2) what the value is of shopping vouchers awarded to his Department's staff as a reward for ideas on savings; and what budget is allocated for this scheme; 

(3) for what ideas staff in his Department have been given shopping vouchers for ideas on savings to date. 

Brandon LewisThe scheme to reward staff with shopping vouchers for money saving ideas was launched on Monday 8 July. I have placed a copy of the associated departmental press release which provides more detail in the Library of the House.

There is no specific budget allocated for this scheme, all awards are made from the non-consolidated performance pay pot. Awards would only be made at the time a suitable suggestion is made and accepted: if there are no suitable ideas, there will be no cost. Notwithstanding, such an initiative will pay for itself by promoting ideas that would not otherwise be implemented which save taxpayers' money.

This is about encouraging ('nudging') a broader cultural shift within Whitehall. At present, the state rewards and recognises those that regulate more, spend more and tax more, rather than rewarding those who regulate less, spend less and tax less. 

The sentence I have highlighted in bold struck me as a pleasingly direct description of the distinction between good and bad government. Conservatives should always want to "reward those who regulate less, spend less and tax less" - plus, it's a good way to encourage the right kind of behaviour in a civil service all too used to regulating, spending and taxing like there's no tomorrow.

15 Jul 2013 07:27:28

Demon Eyes singe Bluebirds amidst the fires of hell

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 07.25.17
Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Demon Eyes 4 – 1 Bluebirds

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 07.26.48Temperatures exceeded 30 degrees on Saturday.  It was in these conditions that a team that had not played 11-a-side football for twelve moths aimed took on their sworn political opponents (and regular 11-a-side team).  One member of our number remarked that they had not expected to be playing Demon Eyes in the fires of Hell – it certainly felt like that.

Set out in a 4-1-3-2 formation, Bluebirds were playing an unfamiliar version of the game, in unfamiliar and mind-bogglingly hot conditions.  The formation, (according to Wikipedia) called for a “strong and talented defensive centre midfielder”.  This was the position that the Bluebirds captain, your correspondent and rapporteur, was playing in.  It appears that self-confidence may not have been justified.

Continue reading "Demon Eyes singe Bluebirds amidst the fires of hell" »

13 Jul 2013 10:30:26

Ultimate political grudge match today: Bluebirds v Demon Eyes

Screen shot 2013-07-13 at 10.28.43
Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

We’re ready for our biggest challenge yet, Bluebirds take on the Labour Party’s Demon Eyes* today.

As has been written in our previous match reports (including Andy Johnson’s piece this week), the Conservative Home Sponsored Bluebirds are playing the Labour supporting Demon Eyes*, sponsored by Labour List, today.  Our opponent’s alumni include New Labour luminaries such as Balls, Burnham, Purnell and Miliband, D.

The match falls on the 118th anniversary of the first time Labour candidates stood in a general election.  This will be the inaugural game in what we hope will be an annual fixture, probably matched only by the Budget in the political calendar.

In an era where rotten boroughs still existed (yes, yes, some might argue seats like this remain) and the Liberals were still a electoral force to be reckoned with, the Tories walked the election with a Blair-like majority of 153.  Labour did not get a single MP elected with only 44,325 votes (the Tories received over 42 times more votes!)  I cannot promise that we will be able to replicate such a massive victory, but we will try and do the guys at ConservativeHome proud.

Screen shot 2013-07-13 at 10.26.05We’ve been in good form over our past four matches we’ve played, winning three and drawing one, so we are confident that we will be a challenge for a team that regularly plays 11-a-side (we’re usually a 5-a-side team with a rotating cast).

The weather is going to be beautiful, apparently reaching 30 degrees, so if you are free please do come and watch us play.  We’ve somehow convinced Paul Goodman to come and watch, so he’d probably like some company in supporting us!

*If you’re interested in why our opponents are called Demon Eyes, click here or watch this.
The match is being played in Islington on Market Road at the Aquaterra centre.  Kick off is at 2pm.

12 Jul 2013 16:43:35

Hereditary peers' byelection

By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter

One of the more amusing constitutional legacies of Tony Blair's modernisation programme as Prime Minster is that we have byelections for hereditary peers.

A campaign is under way for one at the moment. The death of Lord Reay means a byelection for a replacement hereditary peer will take place on Tuesday - using the Alternative Vote System.

Douglas Hogg, who as a Tory MP was embroiled in the expenses scandal for claiming for the cleaning of his moat, is seeking a return to Westminster. Mr Hogg, as he usually calls himself, has since 2001 been Viscount Hailsham - a hereditary peer albeit one hitherto with a seat in the Lords rather than the Commons and currently without a seat anywhere. These days the real power in that family is with his leather jacket wearing daughter Charlotte - the Chief Operating Officer in the Bank of England.

Rivals for the Lords seat include Harold Macmillan's grandson The Earl of Stockton - who is currently a councillor on South Bucks District Council. There is Lord Sudeley whose hobbies include ancestor worship. He says :

Land Registry must record ownership in compliance with a unified national standard. Current inconsistencies and omissions are a cover-up for criminal elements and their illegal activities (takeovers, auction rings, collusion, etc.) I have personal knowledge of both abuses, and can supply further detail on many cases.

Continue reading "Hereditary peers' byelection" »

11 Jul 2013 06:21:22

Andy Johnson: Bluebirds maintain unbeaten streak

AFC Bluebirds is a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 20.39.23After two wins last week, the Conservative Home-sponsored Bluebirds and Twobirds teams were looking to continue their fine form into this week. Twobirds won against decent opposition in the first, fiery game, whilst Bluebirds managed to sneak a late goal to guarantee a draw before the grudge match with Labour on Saturday.

The team quickly took the lead, 3-1 up after a few minutes following well worked Will McCann and Andy Johnson goals. Sadly, Twobirds let success go to their heads and conceded four cheap goals. Despite the heroics of stand in goalkeeper, Kevin Evans, and a brief rally late in the half, Twobirds trailed 6-7 at half time.

A half time team talk which drew upon memories of The Lions, Andy Murray and the '92 election campaign followed by plenty of badge kissing, "we can do this, lads" speeches and chest thumping pushed the team towards victory.  Duly impassioned, Twobirds, and particularly Alex Lancaster, stepped up a gear, chasing lost causes, challenging for every ball and tracking every man.

Unfortunately, with only five minutes to go they were still 8-7 down, suffering from a harsh sin bin against captain, and fulcrum, Hudson Roe.  It was late in the game by the time Joe Cawley, usually a goalkeeper, thumped a questionable equaliser and Andy 'raging bull' Johnson galloped through and in an emotional winner.

There was even time for some show-boating, with the final score reading 11-8 to Twobirds with man of the match going to Andy Johnson, the people’s choice.

Continue reading "Andy Johnson: Bluebirds maintain unbeaten streak" »

11 Jul 2013 06:19:30

Martin Callanan MEP: A Croatian detective. A budget deal. Good work by Syed Kamall - and a Duff proposal

Martin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives. This is his monthly letter to ConHome readers. Follow the ECR Group on Twitter.



 Our final plenary session before the summer began with a ceremony to mark the entry of Croatia into the EU as its 28th Member. For the ECR Group, the moment also marked the entry into our Group of another MEP - Ruza Tomasic - who received the second highest personal vote in Croatia. Ruza was a detective in Canada and a major anti-drug crime campaigner in Croatia. We are pleased to continue to grow our group, and I hope to be able to announce a few new MEPs joining us after the summer.

EU Budget

Since my last update, there has been a great deal of movement on the EU's long-term budget. Thankfully, pretty much all of the movement has been on the parliament's side.

Just before the last EU summit, the President of the European Parliament met with the Commission President and the Irish Taoiseach (who held the six month Presidency of the Council of Ministers). Following the meeting they announced a deal.

We pored over it to see what concessions the parliament had been given. There were very few and, most importantly, no change on the overall figures.

So last week we adopted a 'political resolution' agreeing the deal, and a final vote will be held in September. The parliament is trying to spin it as a victory because there will be a little bit of flexibility in the budget from year to year, but overall the key objective of a cut seems safe.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP: A Croatian detective. A budget deal. Good work by Syed Kamall - and a Duff proposal " »

7 Jul 2013 09:42:53

"Delighted"..."Well done, Theresa"..."Very good news"..."Now for the ECHR". Tory MPS queue to praise May over Qatada deportation

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

I've no doubt that the pager message will have gone out to Conservative MPs to tweet - but the praise for the Home Secretary below will none the less be genuine.

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.20.48 Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.27.01
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.19.34
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.19.55
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.21.25
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.24.21
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.24.03
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.23.56
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.23.48

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.23.24
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.23.18
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.22.36
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.22.46
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.22.58
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.23.09
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.21.54
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.22.05
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.22.19
Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.22.28
...and finally...

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 09.21.05
Good judgement call by the Shadow Home Secretary.

28 Jun 2013 07:20:53

Pickes bites back

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 07.04.50
Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 07.05.29

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

Eric Pickles doesn't mind jokes about his weight.  At least, if he makes them himself.  Or if he's making them about other people.  Or if they're made by people he gets along with.  At a meeting when I was part of his Shadow CLG team, he welcomed Stephen Greenhalgh, the former leader of Hammersmith Council and now Boris Johnson's Deputy Mayor, with a paean of praise, culminating in the highest compliment of all - that "like me, he's nice and fat".

The question is whether or not George Osborne is on the list of people that the Communities Secretary gets along with.  The Guardian has a detailed account this morning of how the Treasury negotiated the spending review, and makes the point that CLG is one of the two departments that was especially helpful (the other was Justice).  But relations between them aren't always as harmonious - particularly over housing and planning.

The Chancellor has been given a rough ride over his burger snap, particularly by the Sun, which seems particularly ill-disposed to him.  Pickles is a master of publicity, and will have known the effect that his tweet would have when he published it.  Osborne is grinning and bearing it - "Nice one, Eric" - he tweeted back yesterday, but the exchanges speak eloquently about how the Chancellor's relationship with some of his colleagues. Were I him, I would lay off the Fat Jokes.

22 Jun 2013 06:32:40

Martin Callanan: 26 million young people are unemployed across Europe. So how does the EU respond? Yes - you guessed it...

Martin Callanan MEP is Chairman of the European Conservatives. This is his monthly letter to ConHome readers. Follow the ECR Group on Twitter.


Youth unemployment

 With youth unemployment now at over 26 million across the European Union, there's really only one thing for the EU to do: hold a summit. At the end of June, EU leaders will meet again with the hope of reaching agreement on how to get people back to work, and especially to prevent a lost generation in southern Europe. Before this summit, José Barroso, the European Commission President, came to the parliament to debate with us what we would like to see from the meeting.

Unsurprisingly, we heard a lot from the other political group leaders about how we need a bigger EU budget, or a state guarantee that every young person will get a job or training place. In my speech I decided to attack this irresponsible approach of Europe's leadership - which seems to promise people what we can never deliver, namely benefits and payments that have not been earned through productivity.

I said that instead of the 'we know best' attitude too often adopted in Brussels and Strasbourg, we need to get out of people's way, and give them more freedom to deliver for themselves, their families, and the wider economy. A good place for us to start would be to scrap some of the EU's job-killing legislation like the Working Time Directive that actually prevents people from working, or the Agency Workers Directive which makes it harder for young people to get a foot on the employment ladder.

For evidence of what false promises from politicians lead to, we need only look at socialist France. Francois Hollande promised so much - but, since being elected, he's been mugged by reality and unemployment has risen to its highest level in 15 years. In the parliament I take every opportunity I can to highlight how devastating Hollande has been because France will become our future if we elect a socialist government in the UK. You can watch my speech here.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan: 26 million young people are unemployed across Europe. So how does the EU respond? Yes - you guessed it..." »

21 Jun 2013 11:11:19

Bone and Hollobone - the Bialystock and Bloom of the Conservative backbenches

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

Readers of a certain age will remember the scheme at the heart of the plot of Mel Brooks's The Producers - namely, to make a fortune by finding the worst play in the world and taking it to Broadway.

The two men at the heart of this criminal venture are Max Bialystock, a seedy producer, and Leo Bloom, a presenceless accountant.  It is late at night, and the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of play manuscripts.

Bloom: Max, let's call it a night. It's two in the morning.  I don't know what I'm reading anymore.

Bialystock: Read, read.  We've got to find the worst play ever written.

(Bialystock turns his attention to a new script. He cracks it open and begins reading.)

Bialystock: Hmm. "Gregor awoke one morning to find he had been transformed into a giant cockroach..."

Cut to today's Palace of Westminster where, as part of a quartet with Christopher Chope and David Nuttall, Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone have conjured up an entire Alternative Queen's Speech - a venture first embarked upon by this website.

Bone and Hollobone are anything but seedy and presenceless, let alone the kind of men who get involved in criminal ventures.  Indeed, they are two independent and principled MPs.  None the less, I thought of that Mel Brooks scene when I read about their ploy this morning.

For just as Bialystock and Bloom had an aim - to make a loss - so do Bone and Hollobone: namely, to wind up the left, and fly it like a kite (not to mention advancing ideas in which they believe).  Imagine: the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of bills...

Hollobone: Good Lord, it's morning. Let's face it, we'll never find it.

Bone (wearily): "A Bill to privatise the BBC."

Hollobone: Too predictable.

Bone: "A Bill to abolish the Department of Climate Change."

Hollobone: Too reasonable.

Bone: "A Bill to Ban the Burka".

Hollobone (pause): Not provocative enough.

Bone (suddenly): We'll never find it, eh? We'll never find it, eh? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

(Bone is standing. At his feet lies a bill. He dances around it, his arms folded across his chest.)

Hollobone: Peter, what is it? What are you doing? What's happening?

(Bone bends down, picks up the bill and shakes it in Hollobone's face.)

Bone: This is freedom of want forever. This is a house in the country. This is a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. This is wine, Mrs Bone and song.

Hollobone: You've found the right bill!

(Hollobone snatches the bill from Bone's hands reads aloud the title.)

Hollobone (triumphantly): "A Bill to rename the August Bank Holiday Margaret Thatcher Day..."

A final point in closing.  Benedict Brogan's usually infallible morning newsletter is sadly off-beam today on the subject of the Bone/Hollobone measures.  He suggests that the real aim of the duo, plus of course Chope and Nuttall, is to wind up not the left, but David Cameron.

I can't imagine what on earth put this idea into his head.

19 Jun 2013 07:10:57

AFC Bluebirds soar in double demolition

Screen shot 2013-06-18 at 18.48.19
Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

On the 17 June 1987, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow officially became extinct. 26 years later, the ConHome-sponsored, avian-named, Bluebirds were playing to ensure their own survival and avoid relegation.  Knowing that the Big Name Sponsor was disappointed in the results last week, the team worked to right this and clock up some victories. 

Lining up for the early kick off, any chance of the first team staying in the second division was dependent upon not just winning, but winning by a strong margin and results in other games going our way. The team, fired up by an inspirational speech from the Captain and free Lucozade at Powerleague ultimately did not avoid the drop. However, the match was a one sided affair with the boys in blue dominating the match and scoring ten goals.

Straight from the kick off Bluebirds were all over the opposition with secure defending and overwhelming firepower up front. Holding the defence was the captain, with Dan Hooper and Ed Winfield spending all of the game running; supporting the defence, facilitating the attack, using all the energy a motivational speech and a free power drink can bring.

With the keeper barely being called upon there was nothing to stop a forward rampage. Jimmy McLoughlin, with his partner-in-crime the Roberto Carlos-like Adam Brown in support, led the charge bagging an excellent hat-trick. With quick passing, competitive play and repeated use of their weaker foot, this first class group of players worked to create a symphony of champagne football. Victory was guaranteed with goals subsequently going to every member of the team - a resounding victory.  The team may have been relegated but with performances like that one, the Division Three title beckons.


The second game of the evening saw the second of the two Bluebirds teams. playing in the Premier Division (safe in the knowledge that they were safe from relegation). enter into a full-blooded contest against a team of angry young men.

A core of players having played the earlier game, the team were well prepared for one of the most physical encounters the intrepid bluebirds had ever faced.  Owing to the experience of the team and despite constant provocation, all of the team remained on the pitch for the whole game.  This was not the case for the over-exuberant ‘Goalscoppers’ who had players removed from the field at several points in the game.  Bluebirds are used to finding themselves playing against physically intimidating opponents; never before has it been a batch of hormonal students. 

Despite the antagonism, Bluebirds continued the evening’s tradition of fine, flowing football - Luke Webster and Alex Lancaster providing width and Jack Withrington again performing the role of foundation upon which successful attacks could be built.   Constant buzzing around and running led the team to overwhelm the youthful opponents; displaying passing that would not look out of place in a Guardiola team.  Despite superior possession the match was, in terms of goals scored, a tight affair, never exceeding a two-goal margin.

The Captain pitched in with his first hat trick of the season, including an expertly dispatched left-foot half volley to take the lead in the final few minutes.  This was sadly undone by some awful defending, but the striker, Will McCann, restored the lead with seconds on the clock.

The season may be over, but there is no let-up for the Bluebirds.  Next week is the beginning of the new season (no summer tour, trips to Dubai or pre-season training sessions for us), with only three weeks before the grudge match against Labour's Demon Eyes on July 13.  

Twobirds 10 – 3 Buzzers
Bluebirds 8 – 7 Goalscoppers

18 Jun 2013 06:34:08

Cameron's coming reshuffle will be a reshuffle for women

Screen shot 2013-06-17 at 22.32.04
By Paul Goodman

Follow Paul on Twitter.

Having reshaped his Cabinet substantially last summer - sacking two Cabinet Ministers in the process - David Cameron is unlikely to do so again during this one.  This is because to do so would both risk destabilising his already fractious Parliamentary Party, and offend his instinct to keep changes to his front bench to a minimum. From the Prime Minister's point of view, it makes sense to delay a substantial Cabinet clearout until next summer, when a team can be put in place to fight the election in 2015.

Leaving the next big shuffle until later in the Parliament will also minimise any backlash from sacked Ministers, since they will rally round Cameron during the election run-up (that's the theory, at any rate).  The claim that Sir George Young will stay in post for the time being would dovetail with such an approach.  The Prime Minister's most likely reshuffle course, therefore, will be to restrict change to the lower ranks of the Government - but to promote to just below Cabinet level men and women who, in his view, are capable of making it to the top table next year.

Continue reading "Cameron's coming reshuffle will be a reshuffle for women" »

15 Jun 2013 15:25:40

MEP candidates and hustings for North East, North West and Yorkshire

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter.

We now have full shortlists for the European Election lists in the North East, North West and Yorkshire - along with information on the first hustings at which party members can quiz the candidates before ranking them.

Here's a reminder of the selection process: first, the regional selectoral college decide which candidates to shortlist. If MEPs are reselected, they automatically go above the non-MEP candidates on the eventual list, and non-MEP candidates make up the rest of the shortlist. Now that the shortlists are confirmed, party members use postal votes to rank the MEPs and the non-MEPs in the order they will be listed at the election next year.

North East Candidates

Martin Callanan MEP

Ben Houchen

Andy Lee

John Sharp

Yorkshire Candidates

Timothy Kirkhope MEP

Caroline Abbott

Fleur Butler

Michael Naughton

Spencer Pitfield

Karl Poulsen

John Proctor

Alex Story

Yorkshire Hustings:

  • Saturday 15th June: 10am at The Lodge at Leeming Bar, Great North Road, Bedale, DL8 1DT
  • Monday 17th June: 7pm at The Viking Hotel, Western Road, Goole, DN14 6RG
  • Friday 21st June: 7pm at Rio Grande, 144 Woodhead Road, Bradford, BD7 1PH

North West Candidates

Jacqueline Foster MEP

Sajjad Karim MEP

Joe Barker

Kevin Beaty

Deborah Dunleavy

Charles Fifield

Daniel Hamilton

Greg Morgan

James Walsh

Chris Whiteside

North West Hustings: 

  • Lancashire: Monday 17th June: 7pm at Preston North End Football Club, Sir Tom Finney Way, Preston, PR1 6RU
  • Cheshire East: Tuesday 25th June: 7pm at Toft Cricket Club,  Chelford Road, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 8QX 
  • Cheshire West and Cheshire: Thursday 27th June: 7pm at Ellesmere Port Conservative Club, Worcester Walk, off Westminster Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 2ES (satnav postcode CH65 2AA)

NB 1: Charles Fifield and Chris Whiteside did not appear on the original North West list this site was given - this is now the complete list.

NB 2: Some regional hustings may require pre-registration to attend - members are advised to check with constituency chairmen to confirm their attendance.

13 Jun 2013 13:06:21

Solidarity with Julian Huppert: the hurt, pain and humiliation of being compared to Mr Bean

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

Julian Huppert, the MP for Cambridge, is unhappy, according to the Times (£). When he rises to speak in the Commons, his fellow MPs greet him with a collective sigh, as theatre-goers once greeted Peter O'Toole's legendarily calamitous production of "Macbeth".  Yesterday, they upped the ante - and Mr Huppert clambered to his feet amidst a chorus of jeers.  Hansard records the following recent exchange: "Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) rose. Hon Members: "Oh, no."  Asked if he felt bullied, Dr Huppert replied - honestly and pithily - "Yes."

I know how he feels.  Over ten years ago, I was minding my own business in the Commons chamber, in the pleasant state of daydream that MPs habitually slip into when their colleagues are speaking, when my tranquility was suddenly and brutally disturbed.  Tony Banks, the former Labour MP, was speaking.  He was saying that John Thurso, the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, looked remarkably like Lord Lucan.  "He has done well to seek the anonymity of being a Liberal Democrat," he said.

Continue reading "Solidarity with Julian Huppert: the hurt, pain and humiliation of being compared to Mr Bean" »

12 Jun 2013 07:35:57

Sponsor agony as BlueBirds have wings clipped

Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 22.32.21The ConservativeHome-sponsored Bluebirds teams played their penultimate matches of the season knowing that for one team their position in the first division was secure, but that the team languishing towards the bottom of the second tier had to win at least one of their next two games to stand a chance of remaining in the division.  Sadly, without the big money sponsor in attendance, Bluebirds did not perform as well as they can – perhaps feeling his absence in the corporate box side of the cage.

A strong team lined up for the first match, including debutant Will Tanner.  The team needed a victory against their fellow relegation candidates to put them within touching distance of guaranteed safety and away from the lowest division.
It was clear from the start that the opposition were going to harry Bluebirds as much as possible, allowing for very little time on the ball.  Some great goalkeeping from Joe Cawley and a couple of dazzling runs and confident finishes from Kevin Evans (pictured) saw the team go a couple of goals up.  This provoked a response from the opposition who came back strongly.  Bluebirds went into half time in good spirits and ahead by one goal.

Our over-confidence nearly proved our downfall as Bluebirds conceded a couple of quick fire goals from the opposition early in the second half.  After this brief setback, our neat, sharp passing game returned and Evans found space again slotted the ball past the keeper, taking his tally to a personal best of five.  Despite more attacking pressure (and a few more goals) from FC Coping Badly, a much-needed goal from Ed Winfield pulled Bluebirds level before a last minute goal saw the opposition's lead returned.

As the clock ticked down, barely seconds remaining, a back-heeled free kick from Hooper saw the captain control and unleash a fizzing long-range effort into the bottom corner sealing a deserved draw. The result was fair in the context of the game with notable performances from Joe Cawley and the man of the match and leading goal scorer, Kevin Evans (pictured) aided and abetted by defence splitting passes from the debutant Tanner and Ed Winfield on the wing.

In the second game, a team took their chances to snatch a victory that maintained their title push.  Sadly, it was not Bluebirds.  Joseph Cawley, again brilliant in goal, was the only bright star, again showing a level of performance that did not warrant being on the losing team.  Will McCann (read: star striker) returned to the starting line-up following a month long injury and faced a herculean battle against the Intergreat’s goalkeeper.  The keeper only saw three pass him; another long-range strike from the captain, a nicely taken goal by McCann and a comedic own-goal that hit an opposition player's head, the ceiling and then the back of the net.  Sadly, the team's Wigan-style defending saw us lose by five goals

There were some brief flashes of brilliance, but for the most part, an opposition desperate to win the title (they sit in second place) out-ran and out-gunned the Bluebirds. The players are now looking forward to the final games of the season knowing performances need to improve drastically for us to put in a good show against Labour’s Demon Eyes in four weeks.

Twobirds 8 - 8 FC Coping Badly
Bluebirds 3 - 8 Intergreats