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What Next For The Lib Dems?

After a frankly devastatingly damaging result on Thursday, the Liberal Democrats like UKIP and Labour need a change in direction. Nick Clegg, who showed just how popular the Lib Dems would be given parity of coverage in 2010, packed in his Cleggmania and sacrificed himself once more, this time for the good of the party. The question is, who follows him?

The Survivors

Favourite… Former party president Tim Farron

The remaining 8 Liberal Democrat MPs are widely and rightly considered the most appropriate successors. Former party-president Tim Farron is many’s first choice, including the bookmakers’ who have installed him as an early 1/6 favourite to land the position. While Farron is credited with being able to inject immense amounts of passion, his credentials when it comes to social liberalism are questioned due to his hesitant support of Lynne Featherstone’s Marriage Equality bill. Regardless, he DID vote in favour of the bill and has experience at the top of the party, having already served as party president. As well as this Farron rebelled against that tuition fee vote which could be useful in establishing a new direction for the party. As well as this Farron’s roots lie in the North of England, which would help distinguish him from the Westminster bubble. However, perhaps the most staunch tuition fee rebel is Greg Mulholland who retained his Leeds NW seat on Thursday. Mulholland is perhaps most notable for retaining traditionally social liberal values but not being afraid of turning against the party line when he sees fit, while this has its downsides, it could be a huge bonus in establishing a new direction for the Liberal Democrats, making us a more radical option to the electorate. While Norman Lamb did remarkably well to survive the Lib Dem purge of Norfolk, he is almost at the opposite side of the party, towing closer to the party line and perhaps less radical – a more conservative choice for the party’s future. Finally, we must credit Alistair Carmichael for holding on to his Orkney & Shetland seat, a better retention rate in Scotland than the Scottish Conservatives combined, but again Carmichael is closer to the Cleggite era from which we’ve just emerged and with less emphasis on radical social justice and a below average debate contribution record, he might not be strong enough to lead the party.

The Outsiders

By George!… Welsh Liberals have had great success before

Of course with so many major losses to the party our options from Parliament are somewhat diluted. It would be a big risk for the party to elect a leader that isn’t currently an MP – we saw that it doesn’t guarantee victory with Natalie Bennett and Nigel Farage of the Greens and UKIP losing out in their constituencies. However, if we did decided to go down that road there are a few worthy candidates. Former MP for Dunbartonshire East Jo Swinson was charging her way up the party before she was an unfortunate casualty of the rise of Scottish nationalism. As a strong voice for democratic and constitutional reform as well as an effective, compassionate and truly liberal Junior Equalities Minister. She was heading on her way to the top of the party, the loss of her seat to the SNP is the single biggest strike against her. Hornsey & Wood Green’s former MP Lynne Featherstone is my personal favourite Lib Dem, she almost single-handedly brought marriage equality to the country at a time when politics was entirely distracted by the poor state of the economy. Her loss is perhaps the biggest felt to the social liberals of the party, her record as a parliamentarian is among the very best but does she have the natural command of a leader? Maybe not. Then we could consider those already in other senior positions of the party. Party president Baroness Sal Brinton is already high-up in the party and the current de facto leader, as a pioneer of Liberal values in Parliament’s upper house, Brinton can also claim to be one of the most active Lords in the country. However, her title and unelected status could be a massive turn-off to voters. It would too be a good idea to consider Welsh Lib Dems leader Kirsty Williams, who has retained her AM position ever since the Welsh Assembly was founded and was in 2012 voted AM of the year despite the political landscape of Wales favouring three other parties before the Lib Dems. She also has a great reputation in health campaigning, a key issue in her country. Being a Welsh woman could too prove a progressive bonus, differentiating her from the Westminster men that dominate the main parties’ leadership.

The Wildcards

Don’t Mention The Coalition… John Cleese may be a Fawlty choice

And now, just because I think us Lib Dems could do with something a bit more light-hearted let’s briefly entertain the idea of some off-the-wall contenders. Firstly, the Lib Dems most famous and popular celebrity supporter John Cleese has shown that he’s a die-hard party supporter even when it wasn’t exactly en vogue. Just imagine how brilliant he would be in 2020’s leadership debates, he would certainly unseat Boris Johnson, who is surely the next Tory leader in waiting, as the biggest comedy character in politics. Then again, how excellent is the Liberal Democrat Yoda that is Paddy Ashdown, able to command the respect and attention of anyone in UK politics, he is a true credit to the party and given his advancing years clearly would never want to be leader again but I would like to see him as a prominent part of our fightback – arguably my favourite British politician of all-time. Finally, I think we should consider myself, Chris Whiting (I needed the bold bit), I’ve seriously been waiting for years to get my teeth stuck in to UKIP and apparently I’m 98% on message with the party, I pledge to bring sass to the Liberal Democrats – okay, it’s probably not the best plan but let’s not rule anything out.

So far so good… sort of

It’s been a strange return to the Premier League so far for the Foxes. An impressive of haul of eight points against Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea, Stoke and Manchester United has been followed up by the embarrassing return of just one point against Palace, Burnley and Newcastle. A fiery start to the new campaign has quickly been extinguished in a seemingly typical fashion.

I’m not usually a fan of phrases like “typical Leicester” or “classic City”. It’s always used with negative connotations and it’s the sort of arrogant fatalism spouted by nearly all football fans the nation over. However, Leicester’s recent blip does seem to resonate with our rather unfortunate habit of helping teams on a bad run. Like other Foxes fans, I’ve noticed on many occasions that periods of bad and indeed good form end against City. In fact, I’ve often said that all runs come to an end at the King Power Stadium – no matter if the visitors are winless Conference North Hyde or the impenetrable Barcelona on the back of their ninth consecutive clean sheet.

This has certainly proven to be the case in City’s last three outings. Crystal Palace were without a home win in the current campaign before Leicester turned up and relinquished three points from two atrociously defended set pieces. Burnley had waited six league games to find the back of the net following their opening day defeat to Chelsea, and Claret goals proved to be like London buses as Burnley rocked up to Filbert Way, scored twice, and deservedly stole a point from a lacklustre Leicester side. And then of course just yesterday, Leicester travelled to winless Newcastle United and believe it or not, lost.

Given this odd bit of trivia, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the Foxes that our next opponents are a Swansea City side without a win in five. Gulp. The Swans are certainly not a bad side either, and I’d be willing to bet that their first four games are more indicative of how their season will go than their last few. It feels like City never do well in South Wales too, with Leicester’s last success in Swansea coming in 1986, although, we’ve only met twice since then.

Leicester travel to Swansea next Saturday in the hope of recapturing our previously held panache. Many theories have been floated on social media as to what is the cause for City’s downturn in form. Some have pointed out that a failure to start with what is perceived as our strongest team, has left us looking for points too late on. Others have noted that an inconsistent team is leading to unsettled form, the opposite of Leicester’s system last term.

I personally would welcome a return to the 4-4-2 system of last campaign that served us so well. I’d also advocate for Jamie Vardy starting in a central role so he can pounce on through balls like a bloodthirsty jaguar. I would also like to see Riyad Mahrez start. Admittedly, playing him yesterday would have been a bit of a stretch given his international commitments but the Algerian is capable of changing any game, particularly in his current purple patch of form.

These are just my suggestions and whatever the problem(s) is/are, it’s important to remember that form is temporary and to stay supportive of the side. I share everyone’s frustrations that we aren’t collecting as many points as we should be. After all, if we can take five points from Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United, we should be able to beat Burnley and co.

Unfortunately, football isn’t like that. Leicester are doing okay though and that’s what’s important – we’re on course to achieve our targets and we have proven on our day, we can be a match for every side in the division. The results may not be glittering but the signs are still good for the Foxes – so until our good form returns, until our strikers rediscover their ruthlessness, until our midfield returns to being unplayable and until our defence becomes immovable again all we can do is back the team and the manager. Foxes never quit, keep the faith, blah blah blah.

How 9 Years of Television Were Destroyed in 43 Minutes

Kids, let me tell you the story of how nine years of pretty solid television was undone in a catastrophic forty five minutes of nonsense…

Did I lose a slap bet to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas? Because it feels like it. How I Met Your Mother, one of my favourite TV shows signed off last Monday night with it’s long-awaited series finalé.  Fans had waited for years and years to see Ted Mosby finally meet the mother of his children and we did. However, we also got the ending that nobody wanted to see. Ted still somehow ended up with Robin.

I never anticipated that the final episode could go so horribly wrong but it did and for several different reasons; Firstly, the swift and lazy dismantling of Robin and Barney’s marriage was thoroughly unsatisfying. The viewers had spent the last three or four seasons accepting that Robin and Barney, and the vast majority felt Barney was the best match for Robin. Even those who did prefer Robin and Ted’s relationship seemingly accepted that they were destined for other people. However, Robin and Barney ran in to one small spot of bother and poof, they were divorced. The problem of travelling too much is easily repairable but instead they split. We then must question why on earth we had to sit through twenty two tedious and quite frankly below par episodes based around the weekend of their wedding, only for them to break up ten television minutes afterwards.

Major disappointment… Most HIMYM fans felt let down by the show’s ending.

What was even more upsetting was the undoing of Barney’s transformation. For years, viewers had watched Barney evolve from an insatiable conniving ladies’ man in to a devoted husband who chose love over an endless string of one night stands. Even if they had to split him and Robin up, they didn’t have to make him return to his sleazy ways. But in truth, Barney ending up with Robin made sense – two people with emotionally distant or physically distant fathers, hardened and immune to love, coming together and living the happy home life they scarcely got as youngsters. But that was torn apart by Bays and Thomas to make way for Ted, to have two loves of his life and have Barney shafted with a rashly thought through consolation of a love child.

Robin’s character too was tarnished by the episode. Robin is was actually my favourite character because she uprooted stereotypical women on sitcoms. She wasn’t needy and lovelorn and desperate to settle in to traditional married life. Instead she was strong-willed, empowered, career driven and hardy. Well, that was true until the finalé, where we’re supposed to believe that she spent years and years pining after a man who’s neediness Robin surely couldn’t stand nor logically be harmonious with.

It wasn’t only that Barney and Robin ending up together seemed so right, it’s also that Ted and Robin being together seemed so wrong. For years, Robin and Ted engaged in a thoroughly exhausting on again off again relationship. We had seen why they were incompatible despite their strong connection and as harsh as it was, it made sense – it was real, it was authentic. We saw them both hold an unrequited love for the other but the romance ran it’s course. We were led to believe that Robin had moved on, and even Ted did eventually. The viewers were comfortable knowing that although they were good together, they both had their ‘true loves’ to come in Barney and the Mother.

Undermined… The Blue French Horn trumped the Yellow Umbrella

And speaking of the mother, how bad was her treatment in the show’s ultimate episode? The fans spent nine long years waiting to meet Ted’s perfect woman, year after year they theorised and built up their collection of clues to try and untangle the mystery behind this perfect woman that would finally save Ted from the wilderness years of unfulfilling singledom. But no, instead she was treated like a rented womb. It was bad enough that she had only appeared in half of season nine’s episodes but having her die, and in the manner she did was nigh on ridiculous. This was the titular character that fans had waited for – and she just croaked in a hospital bed. There was barely even a touching monologue where Ted had to let go, just “Your mother is sick…she died. Now, I can go back to screwing my best friend’s ex-wife.” The fans had grown to love her, she fit the group well and she was perfect for Ted. Her fate seemed unjust and simply wrong. Having her become a side note to Robin was the ultimate insult to her character. Why was the show given this title anyway?

Many took to Twitter to air their disbelief and dissatisfaction at the show’s poorly thought out climax. However a scattering of ‘HIMYM hipsters’ profess that those not happy with the ending merely didn’t get the meaning of the show. Which is nonsense, given the title and the creators’ comments about Ted and Robin in Season One; “this isn’t the love story we set out to tell.” – which evidently was a lie. Even Cobie Smulders said that the finale was “beautiful” and “true to real life” but I for one am struggling to see what is more true to life about having your wife die and then going after your best friend’s ex-wife, who is already your twice failed girlfriend. Surely, it’s more true to life that Ted only had a working relationship with the Mother and not Robin. Despite their connection, it sometimes just doesn’t work out between people for one reason or another. Surely that’s the truth? Instead of that, Ted got two great loves, Barney got none and the Mother got a long, arduous, untimely death.

I don’t buy in to the fact that the closing scenes with Ted’s kids being filmed in 2006 dictated the show’s ending. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas should have known better than to let that alter the show’s climax. Whether or not they were reluctant to change their mind, they should have realised that ending just simply didn’t work with what How I Met Your Mother had evolved in to over the last nine years. And as a result, fans are disillusioned, reluctant to re-watch the show and a little bit heartbroken that the characters and story they had become so invested in was offered such a cheap and bathetic climax.