I’m not a big follower of French politics.

I was fully behind Segolene Royal a few years ago, know that Sarkozy has married a leggy model with a dodgy music career and realise that the French cabinet has more hotties than other European nations.

But even I know that Nicholas Sarkozy does not speak English. Beyond ‘allo’ and ‘thank you’ this guy DOES NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. Ever.

So what really horrified me upon hearing that Palin was so easily duped by a Canadian DJ posing as the French premiere this weekend is the fact that she clearly did not know this.

And all it takes to know this is to have watched a few broadcasts of Sarkozy addressing other European leaders: they are all wearing headsets with translaters telling them what the hell he is saying.

As the DJ spoke to Palin in a thick French accent in unbroken English I sat in disbelief tugging at my hair, gesticulating wildly at the TV set and wishing I had an American vote … or ten.


Cracks in the ANC this month have bought the historic party many column inches in South Africa, but it was the cracks in a certain chair on prime time TV which brought the group world wide attention last week – for all the wrong reasons.

The as it turns out puntastically-titled chairman of finance for the ANC Nhlanhla Nene was conducting a very serious interview on national TV station SABC2 when his seating furniture collapsed and he was sent plummeting to the ground.

As the balding politician scrambled around the studio floor and the TV anchor fought back her laughter, the clip was winging its way around the world.

Personally, I think no act could have greater symbolised the ANC’s current state of disarray. Take heed Lakota, you could be next.

News comes today that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is upscaling measures to prevent those with extreme views entering the UK.

This scheme is no doubt a vote-winning policy, intended to play on the latent fears of terrorists a large number of Brits harbour, all too often backed up by a latent mistrust of the Muslim community overall.

However, the tougher measures, which will deny Neo-Nazis, Muslim extremists and holocaust deniers, the priviledge of entering Britain raises the age-old issue of freedom of speech.

It seems that increasingly to be in this country that we are free to express our moderate views but not our extreme ones. And after all, the world is not always a moderate place and human beings are not always moderate creatures.

Earlier this year a huge furore was caused when holocaust denier and formerly revered historian David Irvine was invited to speak at the Oxford Union. As a person of Jewish descent I was not offended by this invitation, unlike many protesters. If Irvine thinks he can contest the existence of an event supported by incontrovertible historical evidence, I’d be interested to hear him try.

So, I think what the government doesn’t understand is that preachers of extreme views do not breed hate or terrorism, they prey on those who are already in a prone condition to these political ideologies.

What ministers should really be doing is looking at why certain communities are being recruited by those with extremist views and what can be done to tackle this and to integrate minorities.

Banning and gagging people in the age of digital communication will not solve the problem.

I’ll Be Back


Contrary to all appearances, this blog is not dead. Think of it as a hibernating animal, which is revitalising set to come back bigger and better.

(Real story: I have buggered off for six weeks to a land where the internet bandwidth barely lets me check my emails within an hour let alone update a blog.)

But in the words of my favourite politician: “I’ll be back”

Did anyone really believe that having Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as president and vice-president (in whatever combination) was a sound proposition?It was inherently flawed for countless reasons; primarily, the two were opponents and had spent the best part of five months highlighting each other’s Achilles heels. Clinton had portrayed her Democrat rival as an inexperienced upstart who was not mature enough to enter office; Obama, less overtly, insinuated Clinton was perpetuating exactly the sort of exclusivity in politics that he opposed.

Secondly, both candidates were symbolic in their bid for presidential candidacy; Obama for his race, Clinton for her sex. America, especially in some pockets, does not have the most liberal of cultures. A female or black president would be a phenomenal landmark for the US, which many say it is now ready for. However, to have the so-called dream team which consists of a female and an Afro-American may have been more than the US could swallow, let alone vote for, at the moment.

Furthermore, forgetting all the mud-slinging and reputation-bashing advertising campaigns (mainly on Clinton’s side, it has to be said) it requires a leap of faith to believe some of that professional rivalry has not extended into their personal regard for each other. Especially from Clinton’s perspective; Obama appeared from nowhere, a real under-funded (originally) underdog who then pulled the rug from beneath her long-standing hotly-touted political aspirations.

For Hilary, this was meant to be the year she made history as America’s first female president – not the one where she failed to make it as the Democrat nominee to what could be the US’ inaugural black president. My guess is those wounds will need a lot of licking, and playing second fiddle to Obama wouldn’t ease that process.

So Biden, then , was a much more sensible choice. The kind of silver fox you see roaming around Congress regularly. What Obama lacks – experience, normality, age – he supplies. All of these things are exactly what the Democrat’s campaign now needs. For this presidential nominee has already caused us enough surprise and offered change aplenty – what he needs now is a steady ride into the Oval Office.

My first ever blog – the notion that inspired me to start publishing political musings – was based around the argument that Cameron‘s best shot at convincing us Brits he has something fresh to offer would be to align himself with Barack Obama. I noted that by doing so, Cameron could harness the growing momentum of change behind Obama’s campaign for his own, make a clear stand about the Conservative’s attitude towards race (50 years on from Enoch Powell, Boris Johnson still fights allegations of racism) and form a strong relationship with the man likely to be America’s next president.

So it was with great dismay that I today came across Sam Coates‘ Westminster blog on the Times‘ website, which read “Cameron adopts the McCain position”. The blogger convincingly compares and contrasts the similarities between two speeches the men have made about the Russian/Georgian conflict. Both men have called for a strong line to be taken against Russia, in contrast to Obama who has criticised McCain for being “too close” to Georgia.

In all fairness, it is an expected move. Conservative values traditionally have far more in common with Republican ideals. However, in the US there is a big market for conservative values (in the true meaning of the word) and in the Deep South modest right-wing politics wins votes – by the shed load.

Things in the UK, however, have changed. Labour no longer boxes in the same corner as the unions and the Conservatives aren’t out to protect the wealth of the middle and upper classes from over-taxation (Labour now do that for them).

Tony Blair recognised this shift, adapted and won. Cameron, unfortunately, lingers in the past, still unable to find a battle ground of his own. By backing Obama he would be redefining in the most media-friendly of ways what the party stood for: Change, Opportunity, Hope and Aspiration. Instead, Cameron has backed, what I believe to be, a loser.

When it’s your job to sit around and dream up inventive policies to help northern economies, you think you’d manage to come up with something a little better than ‘abandon ship’.

Not if you work for David Cameron’s (old) favourite think tank Policy Exchange. The charity (thank god they don’t make money for this kind of codswallop) published a report today which claimed that the regeneration of northern cities has failed.

It continued to advise the government that in order to close the economic gap between the north and south, it should invest more in the south. 3 million new homes ought to be built in Oxford, Cambridge and London and all the skilled workers should then move from the north to the south.

How exactly this would serve to address the inequality in employment opportunities between the north and south is anybody’s guess. Surely, all it would achieve is that everyone would live in the south so no-one would care the north was a bit rubbish anymore anyway?

Aside from which, while Bradford and Sunderland may not be the most charming of cities, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle all have booming economies which are bucking the national trends of the credit crunch quite nicely.

Has the author of the report been to Luton recently?

For most leaders to come in second place is a severe blow (think Gordon Brown, always), so how Nick Clegg must be feeling today is anybody’s guess. Lib Dem Voice‘s inaugural survey has ranked the party’s leader as the fourth best performing shadow cabinet member.

Clegg trailed deputy leader and shadow chancellor Vince Cable, shadow home secretary Chris Huhne and shadow secretary of state for transport Norman Baker.

However, number crunchers should note that the website only polled 113 Lib Dem members.

Still, you have to wonder what Lib Dems expect from Clegg given its perennial position as the third party. No politician with a real desire to win joins the Lib Dems, surely? Certainly not a politician capable of GCSE-level probability…

No, the Sheffield-based politician’s party’s job is to ensure the Tory‘s don’t get too comfortable in second place.

For in truth, in an age where England‘s two main political parties struggle to define their fundamental differences, what hope does a third party have without adopting a drastic stance?

Speaking of which, any hope I had briefly invested in Clegg evaporated pretty quickly when I heard him talk about the party’s new plan to drop taxes if they were to get in power. Great I thought.

Clegg continued: “And it is right and proper we set out the direction of travel first and outline how we intend to achieve this thereafter.”


Fraser Nelson‘s Spectator blog is one I rarely miss. For all the wrong reasons. Previously he has championed Tory MP Liam Fox’s boast that he didn’t come into power to “run public services better than the socialists” and today he starts his entry with ‘There’s Nothing to Say Labour Will Ever Win Power Again‘.

While technically, yes, there is no concrete proof that Brownites and Blarites will not implode in a puff of fourth-term squabbling smoke never to be seen again, is this really a sensible assertion? He continues that Labour is stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place: annihilation and defeat.

Hyperbolic headlines such as this rarely have the factual goods to materialise into anything resembling a convincing arguement. Nelson is indeed quoting an unnamed former Cabinet member, who is no doubt has got his own cross to bear. But his main arguement hinges on the fact Labour is mired in “division not decision”.

The Conservatives, however, are apparently a wholly united front. There is no mention of David Davis‘ shock departure last month or of the fact that aside from inheritance tax the Tories essentially have nothing new to offer the electorate. Is change for change’s sake enough?

Furthermore, if the Labour party’s crime is diving not deciding during a summer of discontent, then it must be noted that David Cameron‘s entire campaign is led on divide and conquer; pick apart the opposition and no-one will notice that the Conservatives have absoloutly nothing new to offer.

Tory candidate Ian Oakley today defended his terrorisation of his Liberal Democratic rival with a series of silent phones calls and lesbian literature.
Oakley, aged 31 of West Drayton, said that he had embarked on the campaign of hate in order to “change the political landscape of Watford”.

Continue reading ‘Ian Oakley uses lesbian literature to change Watford’