29 April 2006


This week has been quite the most bizarre in British politics for a very long time.

We have had three big players in the government severely embarrassed. John Prescott's affair with a secretary was splashed by the Mirror; Patricia Hewitt got a lot of stick for talking up the NHS just as hospitals were announcing redundancies to cope with a new funding regime; and Charles Clarke was lambasted for presiding over a failure of communication between the prison and immigration services over deportation of foreign ex-lags.

OK, I'm a journalist: I know that there are real stories here. But the way they have been run by the press and the BBC beggars belief. Prescott's fling is fascinating for the voyeur (OK, for all of us) but of no political consequence. Hewitt's Panglossian take on the state of the health service was silly — and asking for trouble — but was in essence no more than a routine assertion, faced with some stroppy nurses, that the NHS reforms will work out once the dust has settled. And, most importantly, Clarke has got it in the neck on a trifle.

I've no problem with chucking out foreigners who commit serious crimes. A denial of citizenship should be part of the punishment if you come over here and murder, rape or pillage.

But (a) not as many foreigners come over here and murder, rape or pillage these days as the Daily Mail claims; and (b) those that do and are nicked for it, do their time and are then let out "into the community" are no more or less likely to reoffend than freeborn Englishmen who have murdered, raped and pillaged — who are let out "into the community" as a matter of course.

Clarke's problem is an administrative cock-up for which he bears some responsibility, but it is a minor one. There is no way he should resign.

27 April 2006


This is marvellous, and it's been going for ages.

26 April 2006


It's outrageous that so many foreign murderers have been let out of gaol here and are now free to kill innocent Britons. They should have been deported to where they came from so they could now be killing innocent foreigners.

20 April 2006


The football manager John Lyall, who died yesterday, made his name with West Ham, whom he took to two FA Cup victories, but his last job in football was at Ipswich Town, where he put together the team that won promotion to the top flight in 1992. The best line-up in that season went like this:

Forrest; Johnson; Thompson; Stockwell; Wark; Linighan; Milton; Palmer; Whitton; Dozzell; Kiwomya

Not our greatest ever team, but we won the old second division and if only we'd got the playmaker we needed in midfield — and if only the forwards hadn't been such playboy dilletantes — we coulda been contenders. Instead, with no cash available from the board, Lyall signed the awful clogger Geriant Williams from Derby and a handful of others (mostly donkeys), and was forced to sell Dozzell and Kiwomya. He was then booted upstairs into a vague general manager role and was fired unceremoniously in late 1994 as we headed for relegation.

But like every other Ipswich supporter who was there, I have fond memories from that promotion season. He was a very nice man, and it's very sad that he's died at just 66. Portman Road will salute him on Saturday.

14 April 2006


Some highlights from the Spectator's round-up on the question: "Are your religious beliefs a load of mumbo-jumbo that no sane and rational person would take seriously?":
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow:
Yes, I believe in the Resurrection. I believe God restored the life of Jesus of Nazareth and took him to his bosom. The example of suffering and sacrifice followed by vindication is central to my religious belief.

The Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford:

Yes. I believe that the tomb was discovered empty and that Jesus was raised as what St Paul calls "a spiritual body".

Edward Stourton, broadcaster and author:

Yes. I am pretty liberal in most Catholic matters, but I am old-fashioned about the Resurrection, because if it's not true, what's the point? Actually, it's a non-controversial belief. If God intervenes in human history, there is absolutely nothing peculiar about his raising his son from the dead...

Christopher Howse:
Yes. He rose bodily, so you won't find any bones around.

Cliff Richard:
Yes. For me the validity of the Christian faith stands or falls by the Resurrection. If it didn't happen, then all we've got is a code of ethics. Good ones certainly, but we need more than ethics to change lives.

Charles Moore:

Yes: he overcame death, body and soul.
Whoops, mistranscribed the question. It was: "Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?" My apologies for any offence caused.

13 April 2006


I agree with nearly everything in the Euston Manifesto. Here's a version for people who don't like reading.

1. Islamists are tossers.
2. Stalinists are tossers.
3. Most Trots are tossers.
4. So are most Labour leftists.
5. And most anarchists.
6. And every variety of post-modernist.
7. Sign up if you're a leftie who agrees with these points.

2 April 2006


Now, I've always thought Jack Straw is an idiot and I've never had any great admiration for Condoleezza Rice (though I do remember reading a couple of decent pieces by her on the old Soviet Union). But I can't help but think the pair of them have been rather unfairly treated by the meeja during her visit to Lancashire this last few days.

OK, so Blackburn is a dump, Jack Straw is a chump -- that's almost a Ramones lyric -- and it's all been a bit awkward and silly. But Condi has come across rather well as a polite and dignified human being, and our esteemed foreign secretary's boyish enthusiasm has served him well for the first time since he was bag-carrier to Barbara Castle back in the 1970s. Who cares if Condi decided to take the side door rather than face all of 200 Trots, pacifists and Islamists protesting outside a school? Wouldn't you do the same? And mightn't she be better than Hillary?

1 April 2006


I’m not sure why, but in the past few weeks I’ve realised that there are a quite a few columnists whose by-lines I see all the time that I can’t be bothered to read because I simply don’t give a toss what they think. Can anyone sink lower than this bottom ten? I’m not asking for columnists you hate, just ones to whom you give a complete ignoral.

Simon Jenkins
Bruce Anderson
William Rees-Mogg
Libby Purves
Simon Heffer
Janet Street-Porter
Christina Odone
John Pilger
Peter Wilby
Michael Portillo