All entries for Friday 08 December 2006

December 08, 2006

Cash for honours – The big interview this weekend?

Guido Fawkes reports that Tony Blair will be interviewed “under caution” by the police, possibly tonight soon, in relation to the Cash for Honours investigation.

I remain sceptical about this “under caution” business, but it might be worth keeping one eye on the news this evening.

Three asides though:

1. Blair said this afternoon that ‘Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain, Britain. So conform to it; or don’t come here.’ This is far stronger language than we have heard from Mr Blair in the past. I find it interesting that he said this today, especially if Guido Fawkes’s speculation is correct, as it could be perceived as ‘burying bad news’.

2. An anonymous MP (allegedly) writes on Guido’s blog:

I was sat opposite him during PMQs when James Duddridge (Rochford & Southend East, Conservative) asked “Does the Prime Minister expect to be interviewed under caution by the police this weekend?” Blair replied “For very obvious reasons, I have absolutely nothing to say on that subject.” The TV cameras didn’t catch how he was hyper-ventilating and his face was flushed.

3. But here’s a contradictory – and slightly plausible – theory. This rumour’s being propagated by backbench Tory MPs hoping to give the Prime Minister a rough weekend. Guido Fawkes is being used as their mouthpiece.

We should find out fairly soon whether this whole story’s a load of spin.

A shock election from Prime Minister Brown?

Might Gordon Brown be preparing a shock election for us in 2008?

Hazel Blears has suggested in a letter to party activists that Labour should prepare for an election in as little as “16 months away”.

Sir Bob Worcester predicted last year that the next election would be on 7th May 2009. He predicted the last one accurately to the very day. But I’ve also been hearing rumours over the past year that Labour might be planning a snap election rather sooner.

They’ve selected their parliamentary candidates for the next election earlier than would be usual in a 4-5 year parliamentary cycle. The Conservatives have responded and should have their lists complete in under a year.

Why would they want a quick election?
Well, it would allow Brown to pull off a few spectacular moves (like reform of the House of Lords) before walking his way through a general election. Similarly, there might be worries that the longer David Cameron has to bed in, the better he’ll get.

But will it work?
I think there’s a chance it might. The best way for Brown to overcome his glaring lack of warm personality is to blind us with a raft of dramatic changes in policy and make his government appear strong and forward-thinking. Scrapping ID Cards isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, and we might see greater independence for the NHS, allowing it to govern itself.

Only if he does this quickly and avoids silly mistakes will the strategy come off. It’s high risk and there’s always a danger that ‘events’ will derail the entire plan. But if it works, we can forget fears of a hung parliament, no matter when he decides to call the election.

Oh dear… Indian men letting the side down

Writing about web page

A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. It has led to a call for condoms to be provided in smaller sizes designed for Indian men. The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

From BBC News – Incidentally this is the most-read story on BBC News Online right now. Oops.

British politics is boring

The naughty coupleJohn Prescott might be a naughty boy and Ron Davies might have had a moment of madness, but compared with the EU, British political scandals really don’t have much ‘va-va-voom’.

Europe’s second-highest ranking commissioner was fighting to save his political career last night over pictures showing him naked on a beach with his chief of staff. Günther Verheugen, who is married, is shown — wearing only a baseball cap — with his newly promoted aide, Petra Erler, on a nudist beach in Lithuania.


Equal pay for newsreaders?

From today’s Independent:

Female correspondents working on the BBC’s flagship television news bulletins earn £6,500 less than their male counterparts on average, according to figures released under the corporation’s freedom of information scheme…according to an answer to the Freedom of Information Act question, the average female news correspondent working for the One, Six and Ten o’clock news broadcasts is paid £59,050 – compared to £65,625 for a male correspondent.

But… it doesn’t mention that the Beeb’s main news anchor (Huw Edwards) is a man. As well as the 10 O’Clock News, he also presents an hour of BBC News 24 every day. So his wages alone probably push up the average a fair bit. Fiona Bruce is his female equivalent. She typically presents the news three days a week, which with a young family could be through choice.

So does this mean unequal pay? Yes. But is this evidence of a ‘glass ceiling’ for female journalists? I’m not so sure.

There are big problems about equal pay in Britain. But any attempts to end them aren’t being helped when organisations jump on dodgy statistics and don’t reveal the whole picture behind them. Sometimes you can’t compare like with like, as much as they’d like to try.

Bragging Rights – broadcasters really are better than dead trees

Well, as if we didn’t know it already, it’s been proven that broadcasters are better than newspaper journalists.

It’s always been clear from the quality of questioning in lectures, just as it’s been clear from the circulation figures, but today’s…

4-3 drubbing

of Cardiff’s newspaper journalists by the broadcasters goes to prove that we are indeed, the best.

Special praise should – I’m told (I was on a trek to Aberystwyth and back) – go to Paul “The Rock” Martin and Martin “Toe-In” Jones. And to the weather for putting on a fantastic display of hail.

It’s childish, but we’re already planning to rub salt into the wounds with rugby, snooker and badminton tournaments just to prove our virility superiority.

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