31 October 2015

Music of the week

Quote of the day

Methinks he protesteth too much:
"It’s sad,” said Mourinho. “Look at Brendan Rodgers’ situation. He was the manager of the season [with Liverpool in 2013-14] and, suddenly, people were really happy and working hard until he was sacked. It’s strange. I don’t belong to that world. I’m too emotional and hate people losing their jobs but I’m not worried about that at all. Not at all. I don’t spend one second of my day thinking about it. I’m worried about the results, about winning against Liverpool, about qualifying for the next round of the Champions League, about recovering our position in the table, about getting Chelsea back to where we normally have to be. I’m not worried about my job, my future, about anything other than that. I’m not worried. I’m not worried. It looks like people want to put a lot of pressure on me in relation to that but they can’t. They can’t do it. They can’t do it.” By the end, the constant references to a lack of concern actually suggested something very different.


30 October 2015

Miles better?

As I am from the other side of the country, I'm biased, of course, but this strikes me as a step too far.  According to The Times:
It has a reputation as Britain’s most macho city, with a mean streak as wide as the Clyde (Marc Horne writes). But Glasgow has been given a makeover and will be marketed around the globe with a new pink colour scheme.
The livery is being used on taxis, billboards, banners, badges, visitor websites and on the high-visibility lanyards worn by security staff at Glasgow airport. It is also featuring heavily at the World Gymnastic Championships at the SSE Hydro Arena.
The man behind the pink push has revealed that it has been done to give Glasgow a softer, more friendly image.
Scott Taylor, the chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Making a post-industrial city in the west of Scotland go pink demonstrates just how comfortable Glasgow is in its own skin. It’s an inclusive colour, it’s a caring colour, it demonstrates a softness that Glasgow has.”
The city is also preparing to market itself as a gay-friendly metropolis. “It is about making a statement,” Mr Taylor said. “Glasgow is a place where everybody and everyone can come and have fun and feel welcome.”
Aye, well.  Just don't go to Glasgow in the day of an Auld Firm match and expect to have fun and feel welcome.

28 October 2015


Even The Times is putting the boot in:
Osborne could have chosen to introduce the cuts only for new claimants, thus avoiding the horror of families opening letters just before Christmas that tell them they will lose around £1,300. He could have twigged that a sum this large would mean that the adulation he received for his clever summer budget wouldn’t last forever. He could have listened to worried backbenchers, rather than sending his henchmen to bellow down the phone at them when, exasperated, they voiced concern in the press.
He could have put the cuts into primary legislation, where they belong, rather than in a statutory instrument, a lesser form of legislation that the Hansard Society believes is being increasingly abused by governments keen to avoid proper scrutiny. And he could, at a number of stages in this long row, have shown some humility by saying he wants policies to work for the hardworking people that the Conservatives claim to represent, and that he would tweak his original design. Though he said on Monday that he was listening to those who were worried, he appeared to snarl into the camera as he said it, suggesting a man whose pride had been stung, not someone humbled.
It is difficult even for those who support the chancellor’s ideal of a “lower welfare, higher wage” economy to feel much sympathy for where he has ended up. He thought he was being wise, which is always the sign he is being a fool. This latest row confirms that the “omnishambles” budget of 2012 was not just one dropped stitch, but part of a pattern: a complacent chancellor assumes that everything is fine with a controversial policy until its flaws are so obvious that even Geoffrey Boycott’s mother could have pinpointed them with a stick of rhubarb.
Couldn't have happened to a nicer fellow ...

27 October 2015

Oh dear ...

The Guardian reports:
Bacon, ham and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, theWorld Health Organisation has said, placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.
The report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said there was enough evidence to rank processed meats as group 1 carcinogens because of a causal link with bowel cancer.
It places red meat in group 2A, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Eating red meat is also linked to pancreatic and prostate cancer, the IARC says.
Looking on the bright side, there are apparently no suspicions about fried bread and tattie scones.


Quote of the day

Lady Stowell, Tory leader in the Lords, defending the indefensible during the debate on tax credits:
“Let me be clear,” Stowell said. The only clarity thereafter was that she would rather be anywhere but where she was. Even though David Cameron had specifically ruled out cutting tax credits before the election, Stowell assured the Lords everyone had assumed they would, so it was perfectly reasonable to sneak them through on a statutory instrument – and even if they hadn’t it would be a constitutional crisis if the Lords were to vote for a fatal amendment, even it wasn’t actually fatal. As long as everyone was reasonably nice to the Conservatives and didn’t do anything worse than express regret about her party’s incompetence, she could give her word that the chancellor had promised he would have a rethink and come up with something a bit better in the next few days.


26 October 2015

Decision day for the Lords

Will the House of Lords sabotage Osborne's proposed cuts in tax credits?  The Guardian reports:
In an attempt to persuade peers not to block the measures, the government warned the non-party crossbench group of peers, who hold the balance of power in the upper house, that rejecting such a large financial measure would provoke a constitutional crisis.
There were suggestions that Downing Street could flood the lords with new Tory peers or limit its powers if the cuts are blocked. If peers vote for a non-binding “regret motion” then the chancellor is expected to indicate that he would act to soften the impact of the cuts in his autumn statement on 25 November.
Bluffing?  Maybe.  After all, what would the voting public think about the prospect of creating hundreds of new Tory peers?  (Just think of  all those Tory donors wearing ermine.)  At what cost?   Would an expanded House of Lords have a future?  And all this in order to shaft the poorer sections of the working classes.

The Tories might want to think about holes and stopping digging ...


20 October 2015

We wiz robbed

It's official.  The BBC reports:
Referee Craig Joubert was wrong to award a crucial 78th-minute penalty against Scotland in Sunday's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Australia, says World Rugby.
Scotland led 34-32 at Twickenham when Jon Welsh was ruled deliberately offside for playing the ball after a knock-on by a team-mate.
The governing body said that, because Australia's Nick Phipps touched the ball, "the appropriate decision should have been a scrum to Australia for the original knock-on".


All rather messy.  The Guardian reports:
It was a mouthful of miniature sponge-cake dipped in tea that became one of French literature’s most powerful metaphors.
But the madeleine cakes that Marcel Proust made famous as the trigger for nostalgia in his book might have actually started out as toasted bread, according to draft manuscripts to be published in France this week.
A first draft of Proust’s monumental novel dating from 1907 had the author reminiscing not about madeleines as the sensory trigger for a childhood memory about his aunt, but instead about toasted bread mixed with honey. 
A second draft, the manuscripts showed, had the evocative mouthful as a biscotto, a hard biscuit.
It was only in the third draft that Proust wrote that he had bitten into a soft little madeleine.
Any dunker will tell you that plain digestives are the most appropriate, with hobnobs possibly in second place.


16 October 2015

Walking on water

From The Guardian (here):
While half the Conservative party doesn’t really care one way or the other if David Cameron stays or goes, half the Labour party actively want to remove Jeremy Corbyn and half the Lib Dems don’t even know what Tim Farron looks like, Sturgeon is received with an adoration bordering on a holy rapture.
She only has to smile and her audience is already entranced.


Going nowhere?

The state of the negotiations prior to the UK's in/out referendum?  What does Cameron want?  Not clear.  When does he want it?  Also not clear.  When will it become clear?  Later, perhaps.

The Guardian reports:
David Cameron bowed to pressure from other EU governments on Thursday and pledged to put his shopping list of demands for his in/out EU referendum on paper within weeks after previously declining to do so.
The prime minister is to write a letter to Donald Tusk, the president of the European council who chairs EU summits, detailing the changes he hopes to obtain in the EU, before putting the outcome to a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether the UK should remain in the EU.
Cameron has previously refused to be pinned down on his demands, triggering a chorus of complaints over the past fortnight from EU capitals that the negotiations were going nowhere and that there would be no meaningful talks until Downing Street put something on paper.
Do you get the impression that Cameron has a cunning plan for the negotiations?  
No, neither do I.    


15 October 2015

Jezza puts the boot in

The Guardian wittily summarises Prime Minister's Questions:
When Corbyn opened with a question on tax credits from Kelly, Cameron’s eyes glazed over in chillaxed bliss. “National living wage, everyone better off, yadda yadda, yadda,” said Dave, before a little voice in his head reminded him to mention Kelly by name. “Kelly, Kelly, Kelly will be better, better, better off.” Yay, job done. Bring on the next moaner from Radio Somewhere Up North. Only this time Corbyn had a follow-up question. “Actually Kelly will be £1,800 worse off.” Would the prime minister like to have another go at answering the question?
Not in the slightest, it seemed, as Dave scrabbled for a folder that might give him a more detailed answer than was generally required for Radio Somewhere Up North. “All these people benefit,” Dave said. Kelly had by now been long forgotten, to be lumped in the catch-all “these people”. These people being people not like him.
Corbyn now adopted the air of a long-serving academic, reluctantly forced into explaining something very simple to an irritatingly dim student. “The prime minister is doing his best and I admire that,” he said, failing to disguise his ennui. But could he try just a little harder to explain why Kelly would be broke? A puce Cameron snapped. “I don’t really give a toss about Kelly,” he said. Or words to that effect. “If she can somehow struggle by for another four years she will be just fine.”


14 October 2015

Cameron cynical?

Well, I suppose that this is one way of describing something of a debacle.  The Guardian reports:
Not so much a U-turn as a 360-degree spin. From hug-a-hoodie to hug-a-flogger and back again. Changing policy doesn’t seem to present nearly so many problems for the prime minister as it does for Jeremy Corbyn – probably because no one really believes David Cameron has any principles he wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice for short-term personal gain.
Up till Monday night, David Cameron was standing full square alongside foreign secretary Philip Hammond in support of the rights of the Saudi government to do whatever it likes to its own citizens in exchange for sharing security titbits and any number of lucrative contracts.
Come Tuesday morning, when the details of both a Ministry of Justice contract to train the Saudi police – “you don’t want to bother with a sword, mate, just turn this Taser up to max” – and a threatened flogging for an elderly, ill UK citizen prompted an urgent question in the Commons, Dave suddenly remembered he had a conscience. The only public execution now on offer was the hanging of Hammond. Out to dry.

10 October 2015

Music of the week

Stream of consciousness

Mrs Cameron's diary:
Dave has these super progressive thoughts when we are chillaxing in front of Bake Off, like, what if prisoners did the Bake Off washing up as a punishment #winwin, Govey’s like, awesome, noted :) Nancy’s like but Dad, doesn’t BonkersWhittingdale hate Bake Off? Dave’s like not that I heard darling, she’s like plus Dad, do they watch it in China you know what Hunty said, he’s like, I have literally no idea, she’s like, & what about tax credits?
I’m like Nancy did you not HEAR where Daddy said in Greater Britain nothing is written? As in literally? So nothing that Oik & Bonkers & Theresa & Hunty say stops Daddy being totes progressive? Nancy’s like, u wot m8, aren’t we Conservative? I’m like, well Oik & Theresa are very sweetly & kindly doing that so Daddy doesn’t have to, I just wish someone would tell Mrs Merkel :( Because we told her it was Dave’s birthday as in *hint* banging on about Syria is NOT his idea of a treat #downer? She was like, Und? Dave’s like, Angela, my dream is a Greater Britain where nobody will EVER have to do boring stuff on his actual birthday, she’s like, she’s like, Ja, right, in your dreams :(((

05 October 2015


The Times reports:
Alex Salmond was barred from boarding a British Airways plane because he booked his seat under the name of James T Kirk, the captain of Star Trek’s starship Enterprise.
An extraordinary stand-off took place this summer, when check-in staff at Heathrow refused to let the former first minister on to a flight to Scotland because his passport did not match the name on his ticket.
Mr Salmond, 60, revealed that he often travelled under a false name for security reasons and he liked to use Captain Kirk’s name because he is an avid fan of the television series.


03 October 2015

Music of the week

The Hair

Vanity, vanity, vanity.  The Times reports:
Enter Donald Trump. The tycoon’s marmalade-coloured, candyfloss-textured, gravity-defying, super-luxury comb-over has entranced much of America — including Ms Stephens, who re-creates hairstyles from antiquity. “I tried to figure out how long that top hair has to be. It’s probably pushing a foot long,” she told me.
“He combs it diagonally forward to the right, pulls half of it back, and drags it to the left — kind of a big overlapping U shape that’s sprayed down with aerosol cement.”
Political hair, of course, is an irresistible springboard for pop psychology. A flamboyant do such as Mr Trump’s can connote self-esteem, Ms Stephens suggests. 
No, it connotes the fact that he is going bald.


Extract from the Corbyn diary

From The Times (here):
Today I’m heading up north to meet what remains of the Labour party in Scotland. Kezia Dugdale, who is in charge up there, meets me at the station and says they’re in the car.
“Who is?” I say.
“The remains of the Labour party in Scotland,” she says.
I tell Kezia I thought our membership up here had doubled since I took over, and she says it has, and that’s why they’re not on the moped.
“I’m here to listen,” I tell her.
Kezia says that’s great, because normally Westminster politicians who come up on flying visits never really get beyond the crass Scottish stereotypes.
“Although not to bagpipes,” I add.

01 October 2015

The best they could do?

According to The Times, a geriatric has-been will lead the Brexit mob:
The former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson has put himself at the head of a Tory campaign to leave the EU and warned that David Cameron’s reforms would be “wafer-thin”.
Lord Lawson of Blaby has said that it was time for the prime minister to spell out red lines in his Brussels renegotiation, including limits on migration, or risk allowing “xenophobic voices” to lead calls for a British exit.
Writing in The Times before the Tory party conference next week, the peer announces that he is to become president of Conservatives for Britain as it gears up to join a cross-party campaign for a “Brexit” in the EU referendum expected to be held next year.
He's older than I am ...

Quote of the day

He coulda been a contender.  The Guardian contemplates the survival of Andy:
Having gone from clear favourite for the Labour leadership to distant runner-up, Burnham has had to rethink his political ambitions even more radically than he had to rethink his political positions during his campaign. Right a bit, left a bit, right again, bit more right, no left, left, left. Fire. Missed. Bugger it.
But Burnham is a natural survivor; not to mention amnesiac. Having been one of the few former shadow cabinet ministers not to throw a strop and refuse a position in Corbyn’s team, the new shadow home secretary then promised a fresh style of doing politics where “principle would always come before presentation”. Coming from him, this took some nerve.