Geeky or Gawky for the Labour Leadership Race?
September 1, 2010

The sun is shining and the sky is blue. High pressure is settling over the UK for the rest of the week so it must be the end of the holidays and the beginning of the new school year!

As Chris left for work with a sprightly spring in her step (joke!), I reflected on the fact that for the first time in many years I had enjoyed a good night’s sleep on the eve of a new school year and that my stomach was not churning!        

If it’s back to school time for teachers, then the politicians will soon be back in Westminster.

Since the end of term, Sam and Dave whilst holidaying in Cornwall were visited by a stork with special delivery package and the PM has been able to engage in a few politician kisses baby photo opportunities, with baby Flo aka Florence Rose Endellion. I don’t think she will thank them for the latter (after her place of birth) in years to come!

Meanwhile Cleggy, who got all excited about looking after the keys to Number 10 and being asked to water the plants, wet the baby’s head with a pint of Brains.

He also met a visiting football FIFA delegation and did his best to back the bid for World Cup 2018, claiming it was, “unbeatable” and that, “it will inspire people in towns and cities across the country,” which is more than we can say for the coalition.   

To be honest FIFA could cut down on their carbon footprint and save a lot of time. Paul the celebrity psychic octopus, formerly of the Weymouth Sea Life Centre but currently living in Germany, has chosen England so it’s a done deal!     

The Labour Leadership race is entering the final furlong. There are five runners but it is fast becoming a two-horse race with Geeky and Gawky battling it out for the finishing line.

Geeky (Ed – left) and Gawky (David) formerly known as Miliband minor and Miliband major are the bookies’ favourites.

Bullish Ed (Balls) has lived up to his name and made a bit of a mess up of the race, too much like a bull in a china shop!

Andy Who (Burnham), has had a pretty good run out, with his sales pitch about  aspirational socialism which will marry the best of Old and New Labour, but  there are too many hurdles for this young unknown who has always been an outsider. He’s one to watch  for the future and his day will come.  

Dear Dianne, a robust filly, has huffed and puffed from the start finding it very heavy going and will look forward to being reunited with her stable mate Portillo and trainer Andrew Neil in the This Week studio.

That old tipster, the Prince of Darkness (aka the Third Man when signing copies of his autobiography up and down the country) seems to have switched horses mid race.

He made Geeky, a slightly more charismatic contender than the rest of the field, an early favourite but his tendency to veer towards the far left has caused a change of heart. He now seems to favour Gawky who has more of an inclination towards a right of centre course.

Gawky is certainly a stayer and more experienced than his opponents but some pundits feel he will need to shed a bit of weight as he carries a bit too much baggage. His healthy, high energy diet will probably see him first past the post provided he avoids any banana skins in the final gallop for home.  

Whoever is paraded around the winner’s paddock in a few weeks time, (I would prefer Geeky but think it will be Gawky) will have their work cut out to mount a serious challenge against the coalition stable’s high flyers.

Interestingly, betting slips (sorry ballot papers) have been sent out to Labour party members on the same day that a former novice, and three times winner of the biggest race of all, has chosen to release his memoirs – A Journey

I hope it doesn’t prove to be too much of a handicap!

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A sign of the Times!
July 15, 2010

The old Thunderer passed a significant milestone today with its 70,000th issue, being the only national newspaper in the English-speaking world to have reached that number.  

The Times has certainly seen a few developments since it started life as the Daily Universal Register in 1785 and none more so than its recent daily availability online for those who don’t like getting newsprint on their fingers. 

Today we were invited to visit the Times archive and browse through every edition from 1785 to 1985, but to be honest I wasn’t prepared to pay the £4.95 asking price for a ‘day pass.’

Back in 1944, when the 50,000th edition rolled off the old presses, Winston Churchill felt moved to send a letter of congratulations in which he wrote:

“Few journals can display so notable a record or may so justly be acclaimed as an outstanding example of the virtues of a free press. The renown of “The Times” throughout the world has for more than a century stood unassailably high.”  

But that was before The Last Tycoon, from the land down under, got his hands on it and some might now say, ‘How times have changed!’

I wonder if David Cameron was aware of today’s landmark publication and whether he was able to take a break from repairing the country to pen his appreciation. After all, in these times of austerity, it would be wise to keep in with Rupert – you never know when you’ll need his support again! 

I doubt ex prime ministers Blair and Brown will be acknowledging the occasion after this week’s Third Man  exclusives, apparently Labour figures are ‘spitting’, but there might be a Thankyou text from Mandy.  

The modern-day Times shed its former serious and somewhat pompous broadsheet image some years ago now and the new user-friendly tabloid version brought with it a change of style that has appealed to a greater cross-section of society. 

Serious investigative journalism and in-depth news analysis still remain but they are now juxtaposed with more populist or frivolous features and sensational exposes which would have been anathema, in the old days, to Disgusted of Cheltenham Spa and Colonel Blimp of Tunbridge Wells!     

Today’s edition is a point in case. The front page leads with a low-key but newsworthy ‘Europe warns Obama: this relationship is not working’  based on a lengthy interview with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, but this sits uncomfortably along side invitations to step inside for the racey Confessions of an X-rated teacher or  the  more homespun charms of Mrs Clegg’s * tortilla recipe!

* Please note Mrs Clegg  prefers to use her own name, Miriam González Durántez, when writing about more serious topics, such as the media’s misogynistic coverage of the World Cup and her defence of the Spanish football team – ole!

Mad, bad and dangerous to know
July 14, 2010

Who needs enemies when you have friends like Mandy?

In today’s extracts from his memoirs (published in The Times), The Third Man refers to the early days when he was, “a particular friend and ally of the party’s rising, modernising stars, Gordon and Tony,” so much so  that they were dubbed ‘The Three Musketeers’.  

I seem to remember the musketeers’  battle cry was, “All for one and one for all!”  There is not much evidence of that in today’s revelations but, rather, a level of self-serving machination that does nobody any favours.

For one who purports to have  always put the advancement of New Labour’s modernised political machine above all other considerations, I fail to see how he thinks his book will serve the party’s best interests.

Neither Brown nor Blair comes out of it well, both apparently fatally flawed.

The wounded and wronged Brown, devoid of interpersonal skills, is portrayed as brooding and fiercely malevolent in his desperation to become prime minister, at any cost, whilst Blair an outwardly confident, charismatic and courageous leader, reneges on his word and backs down behind the scenes when it comes to taking tough policy decisions.

However, for me, a greater indictment of both men is their apparent dependence upon, and persistent faith in the abilities of the Third Man, who like the racketeer Harry Lime in the celebrated film noir of the same title, has now emerged from the sewers to engage in blatant profiteering of his own, at their expense.

By choosing to publish his revelations now it will only serve to re-open old wounds and further lower public opinion of a party still reeling from electoral defeat, at a time when it is seeking a new leader to mount a strong and unified opposition against the coalition government.   

But never mind any of that, the main priority was clearly to get his own version of events on the shelves  ahead of Tony Blair who he quotes as believing Brown to be, “mad, bad, dangerous and beyond redemption,” – a description perhaps better suited to the Prince of Darkness himself!

Leadership contender, Ed Miliband, has attempted to put a positive spin on Mandelson’s  memoirs hoping they will assist Labour, by marking the “closing of a chapter”  in its history from which the party can move on.

Sadly, I think that might be wishful thinking. I’m expecting blue will be the colour for the next ten years!