It’s all in the economy

first_imgThe French politician who formally congratulated the mayor of Paris for losing the 2012 Olympics bid to London made perfect sense. The straitjacket of security, he explained, would drive summer tourists away from London towards grateful France. Paris would get the holiday business while London paid the 9 billion-pound bill,The French politician who formally congratulated the mayor of Paris for losing the 2012 Olympics bid to London made perfect sense. The straitjacket of security, he explained, would drive summer tourists away from London towards grateful France. Paris would get the holiday business while London paid the 9 billion-pound bill for the effete glory of a forgettable media event. Win-win for the Eiffel Tower.Boris Johnson, mayor of London, who has delivered all Olympics facilities within budget and a year ahead without being accused of anything more corrupt than an occasional ogle, must have sneered and chortled in response. But there is a major philosophical lesson to be learnt about fate. The lucky, win. The truly lucky know when to lose.A very powerful Congress leader, his demeanour touched by a faraway wistful look, whispered a fantasy to me the other day: that the Congress had chosen to sit in Opposition after winning 206 seats in the summer of 2009. Some crumbly structure would perforce have made a grab for power, doubtless with former Congress allies like DMK queuing up for the telecom ministry as their price for support to a BJP prime minister. Within weeks the whole lot would have been compromised at bargain rates, since they would be trading in used goods. Suresh Kalmadi would have welcomed the return of this version of NDA, since he could have bought out their bigwigs with nothing more expensive than the occasional first class ticket to a sports jamboree. This government would have either sought to sabotage investigations into both the Commonwealth Games and 2G spectrum, or defended them on some silly technical ground, leaving the quiet but well-fed Congress on a high moral plateau. The rackety NDA government would have collapsed in derisive confusion; Congress would win a clear majority in the winter 2011 general elections and Rahul Gandhi would be sworn in as the undisputed prime minister.advertisementThe BJP should be feeling extraordinarily pleased that it lost the last general elections.In 2004 the BJP was unprepared for defeat; but then no ruling party is ever ready for bad news. In 2009 the BJP was unprepared for victory, which is less forgivable. The fault lay not in any individual, but in a more basic flaw: it had not still fully absorbed the extent to which the Indian voter had shifted from an emotional agenda to an economic ambition. In 2009 some of the more media-magnetic BJP campaigners were still behaving as if they were on the sets of a 1950s Bollywood historical melodrama. That age had, paradoxically, exhausted itself with the culmination of the Ram temple movement; once the mosque at Ayodhya was destroyed, it took its emotions along with it. The BJP lost the Assembly elections of 1993 in the very heartland that had sustained its most powerful emotional appeal; Digvijaya Singh became chief minister of Madhya Pradesh that year.Two general election defeats have created a double benefit for the BJP. The voter is ready to empathise again, feeling that enough punishment has been meted out. And the party understands that serious correctives are essential if the show is to go on. The first is happening. There is a visible rise in the BJP vote across the north. The party could shock its enemies and surprise its friends in the next Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. It has stemmed the bleed in Madhya Pradesh and returned to form in Rajasthan, while remaining steadily ahead in Gujarat. The correctives are still a work in progress. Nitin Gadkari’s principal task over the next year will be to put together a viable economic policy for the party which the voter can assess, measure and then identify with.Why has the Congress slipped? Corruption is the easy answer, but not a complete one. The voter is angry about the theft of public money, of course. But he is truly livid at the fact that corruption has derailed economic growth. The first is sufficient cause for the visible and escalating concern that we see around us; the second can lay the seeds for insurrection. The Indian industrialist is talking through his bank account, investing abroad rather than at home. The worker is seeing the gains for which he abandoned the culture of strikes, being frittered away. There is confusion in villages as the landowner demands a share in that fixed lottery called land prices.Protest is a legitimate part of any Opposition’s duty, but that alone cannot convert the BJP into a ruling party. It has to rise above protest and become an alternative; from a trade union into the management structure that the shareholders of democracy can hire when the present management is voted out.advertisementIt tells us something when the language of business becomes perfectly applicable to the business of contemporary politics.last_img read more

Raptors, Rockets or revolts? The biggest threats to the Cavaliers-Warriors duopoly

first_img … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. How serious a threat are Steph Curry’s ankle injuries to his career? features Read more Share on Messenger Steph Curry has missed the last six games due to a right ankle injury, the same ankle that he had surgery on earlier in his career. He is reportedly due back in action on Friday night, but he won’t be joined by Durant. Durant remains out with a rib injury at least until early next month, right around the same time the Warriors hope Klay Thompson will return from a fractured thumb. Without its full complement of stars, the Warriors have dropped four of their last six games. That’s a run that would see them bounced in a playoff series, and it’s just the second time they’ve lost four times in six games since the 2014-15 season. Verdict: Mild concern. Curry is almost back and Durant and Thompson will be in time for the playoffs. Barring any new injuries, opponents should get the Warriors at full-strength. Sorry, Western Conference.Cavaliers: There is one Cleveland player who is not injured and he’s really the only one that matters: LeBron James. Kevin Love broke his hand in late January but returned Monday night in a win over the Bucks and put up 18 points and seven boards in just 25 minutes – and was solid again against the Raptors on Wednesday. Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr are also banged up, but those gentlemen are also not LeBron James. Verdict: No concern. The Cavaliers go where James takes them. As long as he’s healthy, Cleveland can get back to the finals even if he has to pull the rest of them along on a gurney. Coaching Pinterest Pinterest Topics Golden State Warriors Share on WhatsApp Facebook Chris Paul and James Harden are likely to face the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP Support The Guardian Warriors: The 53-18 Warriors already have three more losses than they have in any of their previous three seasons under Steve Kerr. But, no, Kerr is not exactly on the hot seat. Going 207-39 with two NBA titles in your first three years as a head coach brings a certain amount of job security with it. Ever since that record-setting 73-9 season ended in disappointment in the 2016 NBA finals, Kerr and the Warriors know their goals are all about the postseason. He’ll have them focused and ready to go.Verdict: Zero concern. The Warriors have a coaching advantage in most any playoff matchup. Cavaliers: Head coach Tyronn Lue is on an indefinite health leave, putting assistant Larry Drew in charge of the team. (That is, if you are of the belief that anyone other than LeBron has ever been in charge of the Cavaliers.) “For the most part we’ll do what we’ve been doing,” Drew said on Monday. “I don’t want to confuse the guys.”Verdict: Zero concern. Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, David Blatt and Lue have all been the head coach of teams that reached the NBA Finals out of the Eastern Conference over the past 11 seasons. What did all of those coaches have in common? James was on their team. There’s no reason Drew can’t join that (prestigious?) list if Lue’s absence continues. Internal dissentWarriors: If injuries didn’t befall the great basketball super-team of our era, another theory was that infighting could undercut their potential. No team with that many stars would be happy with one basketball to go around – or so the idea went. But nearly two full years of the Durant Warriors are in the books now and there are precious few signs of turmoil. Everyone looked happy at Curry’s 30th birthday party a week ago and any frustrations Durant has are able to be relieved via angry posts on his burner Twitter accounts. Verdict: Nothing to worry about. Kerr not only hired the best talent, but the people around him are happy to work together. Maybe he really should run for president. Cavaliers: Roster strife on LeBron’s teams always seems one passive-aggressive social media post or unfollow away. The Cavs had what was reportedly a contentious team meeting in late January in which Kevin Love was called out for pulling himself out of a game. But Love has since received full-throated support from James and others after revealing his struggles with anxiety and the Cavs cleared out Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline, creating a more harmonious locker room. Verdict: Not a concern. LeBron seems to legitimately like his new team-mates. And even if he doesn’t, an angry LeBron is probably an even more dangerous LeBron come playoff time. Rivals US sports Share on Facebook Since you’re here… NBA finals Share via Email Steve Kerr has two NBA titles to his name. Photograph: Brett Davis/USA Today Sports NBA Share on Twitter Less than three weeks remain in the NBA regular season and the injury-ravaged Golden State Warriors have lost four times in two weeks and in the Eastern Conference the Cleveland Cavaliers are closer to ninth place than they are to first. Could this be it? Could this really be the year we don’t get the same NBA finals matchup we always do?Let’s take a look at all the things that could derail Warriors-Cavs, sport’s true tradition like no other.InjuriesWarriors: The biggest threat to the Warriors, even more than facing the greatest player of this generation in the finals, has always been injury. Losing one of their stars wouldn’t doom the Warriors – recall they won an NBA title and then a record 73 regular-season games without Kevin Durant at their disposal – but it would make them much more vulnerable in the finals and even well before. Playing without two of their superstars, though? Or three? Then Golden State are just another playoff team. Basketball Cleveland Cavaliers Warriors: So what could give the Warriors and Cavaliers problems if not injuries, coaching problems or internal strife? The other teams that will take the court against them for a change. Barring a major collapse in the final weeks, the Rockets will have homecourt advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, the Trailblazers just ran off 13 wins in a row, Oklahoma City has been one of the NBA’s best teams since mid-January and the Spurs will be a hard out if Kawhi Leonard is able to return from injury. There is no easy path to the finals for the Warriors this year.Verdict: Moderate concern. The Warriors are still the favorites, but they won’t get through their conference this year without playing at their best. Cavaliers: As remarkable as James’ career has been, all but the most ardent LeBron fanboys and girls will admit that he has been aided throughout his career by soft competition in the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving is on a talented – if injury afflicted – Celtics team now and the No1 seed Raptors showed on Wednesday night that Cleveland can only beat them if James is playing at a superhero level. Yes, that’s only two teams with a legitimate shot of unseating Team LeBron, but that’s a significant increase over the usual crop of zero. While seeing LeBron lose an Eastern Conference finals may feel like the Earth stopped spinning, Irving would tell us that the Earth doesn’t even spin in the first place.Verdict: Legitimate concern. James might be having the best season of his career, yet’s he’s not a shoo-in to even make the NBA finals. That’s how much improvement the Eastern Conference has seen. Maybe next year it will be time for LeBron to give the West a try. In a Warriors uniform. Twitter Facebook Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Twitter Reuse this contentlast_img read more