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Gale's View from Westminster - March 2013



March. No change in Eastleigh- Shock!  - as the Huhnes move on to newconstituencies. Hacked Off “mad”: UKIP “not mad”. Discuss. The press seek power but not responsibility as Man David takes Leveson to the wire. Ex-pat concern as Cyprus takes a long Spring bank holiday. The BBC is very moving. At your expense. Are “whistle-blowers” good or bad? Depends on the tune that they are whistling, it seems. Has Mayor Boris bitten off Mair than he can chew? And the Milipede Seniors are on the march. Spring forward, with the clocks, into Old Labour and fall back  with the New.
There has been a budget. The Eurozone has been taken to the cliff edge by the Cypriot economy. There has been war and pestilence and, at the month`s end, Armageddon threatened by North Korea.
So what attracts the most British press comment? The weather and the press. And the greatest of these shall be, of course, the press.  There is absolutely nothing that our newspapers enjoy more than writing about themselves and, with the fallout from the Leveson report and “press regulation” on the agenda  there has been a wordfest of navel-gazing. “A free democracy demands a free press” is the mantra that we are taught to preach at home and, particularly, abroad. So The Bourgeois Women`s Tabloid and the Daily Torygraph, with the rest of the sanctimonious field wallowing along behind, have screamed red murder at the thought that in the light of their own excesses they might be subjected to statutory regulation. The Vermin seem to have forgotten that it was not “the government” or “politicians” or “celebrities”  that hacked into Milly Dowler`s phone. It was the glorious Guardians of Free Speech that have been guilty of electronic and personal intrusion and “chequebook journalism” that has rather more to do with Orwellian fourth-estate espionage than freedom of speech.  We all understand the dog-eat-dog battlefield that is today`s Diaspora of Fleet Street with titles battling each other for falling readership but let`s not allow ourselves to be beguiled into believing that it was “only News International” that is the guilty party. There is not a national newspaper that has not, to a greater or lesser extent – and in the case of those who have screamed the loudest it is greater – used the power of the bank balance and underhand subterfuge to try to stand up a “story”. There is a misfortune, and the Proprietors and the Editors of Fleet Street are the authors of their own.
That said, I hold to the view that self-regulation is, if achievable, better than regulation by statute and David Cameron`s Royal Charter solution, which I have not only supported but advocated, seems to me to be a possible and workable compromise.  After too many weeks of inaction Young Lochinvar was right to take the stag by the antlers, withdraw from interminable cross-party ramblings and announce that a Charter would be introduced immediately.  The move, which caught press and parliament alike by surprise, concentrated minds.  At the start of a frenetic weekend it looked as though The Prime Minister was staring down the barrel of defeat in the Commons as Milipede the Younger and Mad Hattie coalesced with our own dear friend and coalition colleague St Nicholas of Clogg and, egged on by disgruntled Tory rebels, promised a parliamentary thrashing.  By the time that the Conservatives` born-again answer to Sir Keith Joseph, Oliver Letwin, had emerged from a darkened room in the small hours of Monday morning, however, it appeared that the “not the talks about compromise” had reached a deal.  The Lib/Lab pact was able to claim that there would be legislation, Man David was able to claim that there would only be a tiny bit of non-regulatory legislation in the Lords, The Hacked Off campaigners, who for some obscure reason were allowed at The Milipede`s insistence to be party to the discussions, were more or less bought  off and the Press, who were not invited to the party, were hacked off. So a Royal Charter it is to be.
Not surprisingly, there are now as many views about precisely how the charter will work, how it will be underpinned and who will be allowed to sit upon its self-regulatory bodies as there are people interested in the subject.   Mr. Letwin appears to have formed the opinion that Hacked Off, led by an actor called Hugh Grant and an ex-MP called Evan Harris, are “actually mad”. Lord Black of The Daily Telegraph has announced that the deal is in breach of Article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights, which is cited frequently by the press when it suits their purpose, and is therefore in breach of the law. (There are other bits of the Convention that the noble Lord would do well to take a look at also!)  The Press seem to have decided in favour of non-compliance and the regional newspapers are complaining that they have been caught up in a maelstrom created by the national newspapers and that “it`s not fair”. Not an argument that I recall local news[papers deploying when wholly innocent Members of Parliament were caught up in the misdemeanours of a relatively few expenses-riggers but why spoil a good “story”  for the sake of a sense of proportion eh?  And finally, to add a little high-tech spice, we now have the Bloggers, who appear to believe that they ought to be above and beyond and regulation that covers the printed word and allowed to peddle calumny and distortion with impunity, bleating that they were not supposed to be party to the new rules.  All in all, a triumph for the “little man” that all this was supposed to protect, don`t you think?
And so to The Weather. I know about it because I was caught up in it. Having slided (slid? slidden?) backwards and forwards between Calais and Strasbourg for a meeting of something called the North-South Committee , with which I will not bore you unless you have a couple of days to spare, I then got stuck in Paris. Eurostar, Charles de Gaulle airport, the whole of Northern France, all came to a grinding halt in the space of a couple of hours, proving that it is not only the English that can be caught on the hop by a flake or two of snow.  Trains seem to run, and planes take off, in Canada and Siberia and no doubt with Teutonic efficiency in Germany, but there is clearly an entente between Southern England and Nord Pas de Calais that flies in the face of the non-existent climate change. One out, all out.  The “blizzard”  left  my colleague Michael Connarty and myself stuck for the night and unable to get back to the House to vote.  This is where pairing comes in handy.
As I write the snow is, in East Kent, still making a half-hearted attempt to fall. We have, in all honesty, got off very lightly. It is cold, certainly, and wet and miserable and seaside towns like Margate and Herne Bay, that I represent, dependent upon the Easter trade to kick the “summer” season off to a good start, are feeling more than just the economic pinch.  Our problems, though, pale into insignificance beside those who have been cut off for days without electricity as power cables have been brought down by wind and snow, and beside those farmers who, as the snow recedes, are discovering just how many of their livestock, including of course spring lambs, have been lost.  Those of us in parliament feel, naturally , that we ought to “do something”. The harsh reality is that there is precious little that, immediately, we can do  save offer sympathy and such financial support as is, in present circumstances, possible.  In the longer term, though, this unseasonal “ Siberian Spring”  may have concentrated a few minds upon the necessity to secure power supplies. With only thirty-six hours of gas in store and the country literally waiting for the ship to come in to replenish the store it would be good to think that those of us who, twenty years ago, were unfashionably banging on about the urgency of the need to create a new generation of nuclear power stations might at last get a serious hearing. Nuclear power stations take time to build, of course, and we should have started fifteen years ago, so I guess it`s time to get fracking.  Keeping the lights on in our hospitals and schools and homes and industries suddenly seems rather more of a priority than the regulation of the press.
The unsurprising result of the Eastleigh by-election was reported in the last of these columns but the repercussions have been reverberating around the Palace of Westminster ever since.  There is nothing that concentrates the mind of a Member of Parliament so acutely as the prospect of losing his or her seat. I am not certain that I entirely share the view of my parliamentary colleague and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Sarah Newton, to the effect that “It is good for the coalition that the coalition retained the seat”  and that the Liberal Democrats did indeed hold  Prisoner Huhne`s vacated division  was due, in large part, to the number of votes taken by UKIP.  That  proves the adage that the repository for disgruntled votes does not deliver elected Members but can, if taken up in sufficient numbers, deliver a socialist pro-European (or in this case a Liberal Democrat pro-European) rather than a Eurosceptic anti-same-sex-marriage Conservative.  As this form of socialism  is precisely  what those supporting UKIP tell us that they do not want the backing of  them in the ballot box seems not a little perverse! Any government in mid-term and compelled to take hard and sometimes harsh decisions is going to be unpopular and the “if this result were to be repeated at a General Election.......” analysis is pretty meaningless.  Nevertheless, Her Majesty`s Coalition has to take some lessons from Eastleigh and there are a number of those on the government benches looking over their shoulders in marginal seats who are keen to remind the Prime Minister that his position, also, is not secure. So a Conservative Fundamentalist speech from The Secretary of State for Home Affairs is immediately construed as a reminder that there is “Life After Cameron” with the headline-writers describing Mrs. May as “The British Merkel”. I am not certain that Theresa will have found that comparison as entirely flattering and talk of “back bench plotters” and “loyalty unravelling” serves nobody`s cause save that of the Opposition.  The message goes out from Downing Street to “stop attacking the PM on twitter” with the reminder that we are “ participants in government, not commentators”.  Into this febrile environment is injected the thought that “Sir Peter Tapsell is keeping his seat warm for Boris”. Sparing the fact that the Fifty Shades of Boris are at present the subject of not inconsiderable scrutiny following “The Mair interview” ,  and the thought that not everyone regards the present Mayor of London, however populist (sic)  in the opinion polls, as the answer to all of our embattled Nation`s problems, it is left to the Knight of The Shires and Father of the House (Sir Peter was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the days of Supermac) to explain that  that this “scoop” propagated by the Daily Mail was, in fact, a joking aside made by Sir Peter to the Prime Minister himself about a year ago!  Not everything that you read in the Bourgeois Women`s Tabloid is entirely accurate. To the adage that “the opposition are in front of you, the enemy is behind you” might be added “or sitting in the `Tory` section of the Press Gallery”.  St. Michael of Gove  “helpfully” accuses some Cabinet colleagues of disloyalty.  It was, from memory, Don Corleone who cautioned “The one who accuses others of disloyalty, he is the one who will betray you”. Gove is correct in one respect, however. We hang together or we hang separately and now is not the time to talk of changing the Captain of the ship.
Herman Van Rompuy says that “changing the EU Treaty (in Britain`s interests) is not a priority for Brussels”. Capping the bonuses paid to bankers, however, ii seems is  That is a diversion from the need to cap the EU budget out of which M. Rumpy Pumpy`s wages are paid and which funds, to the tune of hundreds of millions of your pounds, the “useless, wasteful and clueless” European “External Action Service” and its Mandarins and minions. With Jean Claude Juncker intervening from the wings to offer the comparison between the eurozone crisis and the currency meltdown  that led to war in 1914 it is not, perhaps, surprising that twenty-five per cent of Chancellor Merkel`s potential electorate says, in the run-up to Germany`s elections, that it wants out of the single currency.  Not half as much, though, as do my friends, Greek Cypriot nationals and UK Ex-Pats, in Cyprus as the Cypriot banking system goes into meltdown. Frau Merkel is not the Cypriots` favourite person and there is a strong and understandable feeling on the Island of Aphrodite that the bully is picking on the minnow of the European Union when others, Spain, Italy, Greece and Ireland to name but four, have been bailed out without a bankraid on individuals` personal savings.
As rich Cypriots face losing up to a fifth of their wealth in order to persuade a European Central Bank that they see as directed by the German Chancellor,  to prop up the economy left devastated by Cyprus former Leninist President Mr. Christofias, questions are being asked.  Is this an attack on Cypriot profligacy? Or is it an oblique attack on Russia and the laundering of Oligarch`s wealth squirreled away in an economy that makes the Swiss look positively transparent? In a spirit of Hellenic solidarity the Bank of Cyprus invested heavily in Greece and then watched as those investments flowed down the Swannee with the incontinent wing of the Eurozone. While our own government moved very swiftly to reassure British troops stationed in Cyprus that their money would be underwritten by the State the same is not, of course, true of those many thousands of Brits who have put their shirts on retirement in the sun and in many cases have bank accounts worth more than the hundred thousand euros now protected under the Eurozone bailout scheme. Added to which there remains the prospect that the Cypriot government could yet find itself forced to mortgage as yet untapped offshore gas and oil resources. If that lot finds itself in hock to the successors of Comrade Putin then our own fuel supply position will seem even more dependent upon the former Soviets and, as a consequence, precarious. The West cannot be allowed  to lose the first battle in a new Cold War.   If anyone is going to buy a share in Cypriot gas futures then, as a Guarantor Power, we would do well to try to secure, in the interests of our own nationals, our own position in relation to the reserves. Short of ready cash we may be, but there are some things that we perhaps cannot afford not to do.
In March the pound sterling has hit a three-year low against the dollar and although the stock market has hit a five-year  high and there are more people employed in the private sector than at any time before,  the state of the Nation`s finances does not provide the best of backdrops against which to play the Budget speech delivered by Chancellor George. There was a time when budget leaks were a resignation offence but throughout the Legacy years the Clunking Fist got into the habit of dribbling bits of news to feed the appetite of a press that Blair and Mandelson were so keen to assuage.  So before George has risen to his feet we know that there is a strong likelihood that “in response to the representations of my Honourable Friend from Harlow” (who seems to have cornered the market on behalf of the FairFuelUK campaign) the Labour-planned fuel duty rise will once again be scrapped.  This does not, of course, prevent daylight robbery at the pumps as oil companies shelter their profits behind the government`s skirts but at least it`s not as bad as it would have been under a Socialist Chancellor.
A helpful lorry having jack-knifed just outside Calais, I was able to listen to the real budget on long wave while en route to Strasbourg.  Away, exceptionally, from the raucous cockpit of the Commons chamber it seemed to me that Chancellor George played a bad hand about as well as anyone might have done. Yes, the “rich” might cash in on second homes bought under the Chancellor`s proposals to stimulate house building through state-backed mortgages,  and the public sector pay freeze will have to remain in place until 2016,  but bringing forward the date upon which the first £10,000 of income will be tax-free and the introduction of the flat-rate pension and the benefit cap, reducing the job-destroying national insurance burden upon small businesses, the promise of child-care vouchers, the abolition of a planned 3p cut in the rise of duty on beer,  the actual reduction of 1p per pint and  the anticipated rejection of the 3p rise in fuel duty planned for September left Milipede the Younger with very little wind in his sails as he exercised his traditional right of response to what will become the 2013 Finance Bill.   They say that budgets that are received well on the day tend to unravel by the weekend.  Yes, it is true that Cameron and Osborne have been accused of neglecting non-working mothers and, yes, many of us would like to see the pledge kept and marriage and family life recognised in the tax system but for all that there was precious little comment in the following  Sunday papers and that suggests that “The Laddie`s Not For Turning” line may have struck the right note for the time.  Traditionally, the budget debate is chaired not by the Speaker but by the Chairman of Ways and Means, at present the Labour Member Lindsay Hoyle. Old Doug`s young son Lindsay staked his claim to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons when, in calling unruly Labour backbenchers to order while The Milipede was on his feet, he expressed surprise at “an Opposition that doesn`t want to hear its own Leader”.
Much has been made, during March, of the role of “whistle blowers” in public life.  This arises from appalling events at the mid-Staffs hospital  and “gagging” clauses imposed upon employees` severance contracts. Former Health Secretary Frank Dobson has boldly asserted, as Frank would, that his advice to his successors, Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt, had been to “keep change to a minimum”.  Labour, says the Right Honourable Member for Holborn and St. Pancras,  was to blame for the ensuing target-driven disasters. Whether or not a fresh round of Tory adjustments to the structure of the NHS will prove to have been for better or for worse only time will tell but in the interim the latest in a long line of Secretaries of State, Jeremy Hunt, has banned gagging orders in order to set staff free to “blow the whistle” and has followed through with a promise to reintroduce “hands on caring” and “real nursing” through a “back to basics” element of pre-academic training on the wards before academic studies and qualifications are achieved.
I have never, personally, understood why a degree-level qualification for a vocation that is based upon compassion is either necessary or even desirable. Young women and men take up the call to train as nurses because, as politicians ought to, they care about people and they want to make a difference for the better. Of course that cannot be done without taught and acquired skills but unless the sole objective is to head up the Management (or Ministerial)  ladder, which sadly may be the case, then it is caring and dedication that are the fundamental qualifications for the job.  So at least one cheer for Mr. Hunt and one more if he delivers on that part of his pledge.  On whistle blowers I have some reservations, though. The system needs to allow for employees to come forward and, without fear or favour,  say when malpractice occurs and had that happened in Stafford then many lives might have been saved.  What kind of employee is it, though, whose silence can be bought in the first place? And should they have been in the job at all?  We are left with the uneasy feeling that, akin to  the legal profession, the regulatory and disciplinary system is designed to as far as possible protect its own rather than to root out wrongdoing and hold those responsible to account.  How many Doctors have been struck off by the GMC, how many nurses removed from the wards by the Royal College and how many managers have as yet been moved other than sideways as a result of the mid-Stafford experience? You know the answer and it is that with which Mr. Secretary Hunt has to get to grips.
Talking of “gagging”,  we are led to believe that the Salford Broadcasting Corporation has been using our license payers` money to buy the silence of alleged victims of corporate harassment. Does that sound like the “Auntie” that we know and love? Well, sadly, in today`s climate of political correctness and risk-aversion sadly, yes, it does. The Corporation devoted a fair bit of news coverage of its move from the old White City Television Centre back to its original home at Broadcasting House in Portland Place.  BH, as it is known in the trade, has enjoyed a one-billion pound makeover and this, of course, is on top of the millions spent pointlessly transferring the production of Children`s programmes, Radio Five Live and sundry items such as Breakfast Television to the plush new “Media City” on the outskirts of Manchester. Curiously missing from the news coverage was the £80 million loss sustained through the unwise purchase and subsequent sale of the Lonely Planet travel guide titles and it is hard to find estimates for the costs incurred in the purchase and demolition of the White City Dog Track together with much other real estate in White City and the subsequent construction of a “state of the art” facility on that location.  It will, no doubt, be some years before the final figures for all of these transactions are available as much will depend upon who buys the now-vacant properties, at what price and for what purpose. I would hazard a guess, though, that those responsible, or culpable, will have collected their awards and moved on to the Great Studio in the Sky long before the real cost of this socialist-inspired extravagance has come home to roost.  Accountability?  I don`t think so.
The selection of the new Archbishop of Canterbury has seemed  a dull affair by comparison with the drama of the resignation of Pope Benedict, the congregation of one hundred and fifteen Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, the patience of the waiting faithful in St. Peter`s Square, the clouds of black smoke indicating the tense indecision of the conclave and, finally, the white smoke revealing the transformation of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires into Pope Francis the First. Inevitably the British popular press have done their best to smear the new Pope as pro the former military junta in Argentina and pro The Malvinas as a part of his native country but my Catholic friends seem happy with the choice and when The Holy Father Emeritus and his successor met – the first time in 600 years that such an assignation has taken place – it would have interesting to have been a fly on the wall and to hear the advice proffered from Father to Father.
If the selection of Justin Welby as the Archbishop of Canterbury was a dull and political affair then his enthronement was, by all accounts, rather livelier than some.  I say “by all accounts” because the demands of the North-South committee compelled me to surrender my place at the gathering, which did not please me at all. Nevertheless I, like you, have seen the pictures and it seems to have been a jolly and freewheeling affair. A pity that “Wobbly Welby” has begun to establish a reputation for seeking to dabble in politics but as an already sitting and active Member of the House of Lords it is inevitable that he will want to have his say. His attack on the coalition`s welfare reforms did not go down too well in certain quarters, however. The devoutly Catholic Secretary of State for Work and Pensions found it necessary to remind the Bishops in general and the Anglican Primate of All England in particular, that “there is nothing moral about trapping people in a life on  benefits”.  It remains to be seen whether Archbishop Justin will hold his ground on same-sex marriage or whether he will emulate the Vicar of Bray. Fortunately he should have little say in the apparent desire on the part of a junior government Minister  to permit the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft,  or “The Crypt Chapel” to give it it`s popular name, for use for same-sex unions.  Unlike most of the Commons end of the building the chapel does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Speaker, who might be sympathetic to this piece of political correctness, but falls to the duty of Black Rod to police and manage.  Black Rod, in turn exercises his powers on behalf of Her Maj as the Crypt Chapel is a “Royal Peculiar” established during the reign of Edward the First in 1297. The uses of “Royal Peculiars” is the prerogative of Her Majesty the Queento exercise  and nobody else and unless the House of Commons wants to pick a constitutional fight with Buck House the proponents of this nonsense might be well advised to back off.
Another “turbulent priest”, the former Archbishop George Carey who is not known for biting his tongue,  has delivered an Easter message roundly condemning Man David for “aiding and abetting aggressive secularisation” while himself urging church Leaders to oppose it.  Pointing to a reputable opinion poll that indicates that more than two thirds of practising Christians regard themselves as “a persecuted minority”,   The Noble Lord Carey of Clifton, says that the Prime Minister “seems to have forgotten that in spite of his oft-repeated support for the right of Christians to wear the cross lawyers acting for the coalition argued in the Strasbourg court that those sacked for wearing a cross against their employers` wishes should simply get another job”. Actions such as this, says Archbishop  George, “continues the breakdown in trust between politicians and the people they serve. They are the Big Society which David Cameron was advocating until recently”. Ouch!  Time for the government to practice what it preaches?
A sign of the political times. A health service worker has been prevented from attending a “Fight the NHS Cuts” rally. Because she made the mistake of revealing that she votes for UKIP.
And a group of Welsh ladies were turned away  from Harrods emporium while wearing their national dress on St. David`s Day. “Not in keeping with our dress code” apparently.
A conman has been unmasked having sold a slightly modified device for retrieving lost golf balls as a bomb detector.  The machine, that originally sold for just thirteen pounds, was seemingly flogged to, amongst others, the armed forces of Niger and Georgia for a modest twenty-seven thousand pounds apiece. Caveat emptor, perhaps?
As the Highways Agency prepares to commence its summer archaeological dig along our arterial roads we are told that Britain`s road works would, if joined together, stretch from John O`Groats to Lands End and back. Why are most of these excavations  confined to the South East of England?
Petty Officer Nicky Howes has spent almost half of her thirty-two years as a Royal Navy helicopter engineer in a career that has recently included fighting in Afghanistan.  Virgin airways have apologised to her for the fact that she was required to wear a Virgin sleep-suit in place of her offensive military uniform while flying home. G4S, the  company that were actually responsible for “security” have not offered any such apology because “no complaint has been made”. G4S, of course, are also the illustrious company that owe so much to the military for bailing them out of their failure to properly deliver on their Olympic Games  security contract.
MPs e-mails are in danger of being hacked into by Russian and Chinese `cyber warriors`. May I save them  effort and forward some of the 38 Degrees-instigated “campaigning” round-robins direct? I will even be prepared to allow them to compose suitable responses to this barrage of counter-productive electronic graffiti.
The Scandinavian euro-bore and self-publicising  “comedienne” Ms Sandy Tokswig is reported as asking  whether Kate (Middleton) “has any opinions”? Ms Togstoupe herself has, of course, voiced far too many and far too often. Not good enough for the BBC`s commissioning editor  to claim that it is “hard to find right-wing comedians” as a justification for a continuous stream of foul-mouthed left-wing abuse passed off as `humour`. This is the same Salford Broadcasting Corporation whose `Employee Assistance Programme  is currently spending many tens of thousands of your pounds on `stress counselling`.  The SBC `takes the welfare of staff extremely seriously` as we know, of course, from the manner in which senior managers involved in the Savile Affair have been moved seamlessly sideways into alternative jobs.  The Corporation has established, through a Freedom of Information request, that in 1981 the NHS employed just eight press officers while there are, today, some eighty-two in London alone.  It would be churlish to ask how much the national broadcaster itself spends employing people to spin its own messages but I might just be churlish enough to ask the question myself.
A Manchester housing association has felt compelled to apologise for asking its eight thousand former council tenants whether, faced with increased accommodation costs, they are able to afford “Sky television, cigarettes, bingo and drinks”. “Deeply patronising”? Or an honest question asked of those facing a choice in spending priorities?
It is very many years since Mr.J.S.Fry first introduced the solid chocolate Easter egg. Now the confection is under threat from the health police as the fear of obesity has caused sales to plummet. The Brothers Moss, on the other hand, are benefitting from a boom in dress hire as students rent clothes to wear to sartorially demanding High School Proms. These extravaganzas are no doubt setting the pace for the still more expensive wedding, the cost of which at an average of twenty-two thousand pounds represents a sizeable chunk of the deposit needed to put down upon a modest first home.
A school in Essex has banned triangular flapjacks. Following “an incident” `elf `n safety have declared that such  treats should henceforth be either rectangular or square. Neither of the latter, of course, have sharp corners. An expert adds, helpfully, that “any hard object thrown at the face may cause injury”. The nation is indebted for that advice.
The shy and retiring Mrs. Legacy, the former Cherie Booth, declined the opportunity of a photographic record when she received the CBE from Her Maj. Some put this down to natural modesty. Others are unkind enough to suggest that she did not wish to be filmed curtseying to the Queen.
And The Boys in Blue are going Yellow. The Met Police is trialling Hi-Viz jackets to raise the visibility of the constabulary. Concerns that our policemen might be mistaken for street cleaners or building site workers are met with the riposte that in fact people are more likely to believe that there are policemen absolutely everywhere, with a consequent and dramatic drop in crime. `Evening all.
And Finally...............
Milipede the Elder is leaving parliament and there will be a by-election in South Shields. The Nearly Man, having spent two years on the back benches after losing out to his younger brother in the race to lead the Labour Party in Opposition, has regarded himself as “a distraction” and has chosen to take his American-born wife to the United States and to accept the offer of a position with a major US charity. His decision removes the last surviving parliamentary member of “The Primrose Hill Mafia” that was behind the New Labour project and leaves the way clear for the union-centric Milipede the Younger to consolidate his old Labour credentials.  Game, set and match to Little Brother? Probably not. The Legacy, upon hearing the news, is quoted as saying “This is Time Out, not Time Over”. Young Edward still needs to beware of the Brother Over the Water.

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