As parts of the country grind to a standstill at the first sight of snow, it is little surprise we are feeling sad this January. Detoxing, dieting, giving up alcohol – Guido calls them quitters – the New Year naysayers have been collectively bringing us down this month. Our increased misery may also have something to do with inflation being on the up, though at least unemployment is holding at 7.8%. Roll on February…
N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.
Well this is hilarious. It seems half of Her Majesty’s loyal press corp are stuck in Brussels as they attempt to get back from Dave’s cancelled Amsterdam speech through the Europe-wide snow storm:
This is certainly going to endear them to Cameron’s European strategy…
UPDATE: By the skin of their teeth…
Shamed expenses cheat Denis MacShane will not be prosecuted…for swearing down a megaphone during a demonstration last year. The former Rotherham MP was reported to the police after launching a four-letter tirade in front of a crowd in October, but no further action is to be taken due to lack of evidence.
He might not be so lucky the next time the cops come calling…
Nigel Farage hits back after Dave says only parties that might govern the country can take party in TV debates:
“If he wants to restrict it to those parties who are likely to form the next government, he’d better not be booking studio time himself.”
At last some good news for Piers Morgan: six times as many Americans watch his show as signed the petition to have him deported. But the cheers for Piers end there. The latest cable news race figures for Wednesday have the CNN host at the bottom of pecking order, with less than a fifth as many viewers tuning in to his show compared to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly. The humiliation was completed by 3.2 million Americans watching Amish Mafia, Pennsylvania’s answer to Made in Chelsea, compared to just 600,000 viewing Piers Morgan Tonight. At least Obama’s a fan…
Yesterday’s column by Sue Cameron has gone down pretty badly with more radical elements of the government. The Telegraph commentator, known for her pro-civil service outlook, essentially accused the Tories of imagining that the mandarins are all against them. One Whitehall source raged to Guido last night:
“Sue Cameron says “the idea that officials are blocking reform” is “patent nonsense” wondering whether these are “imagined” failings. Yet with no sense of irony at all, she misquotes Jeremy Heywood (who is known to be supportive of giving ministers a greater say in Permanent Secretary appointments) to (falsely) claim he will “block such a move”. Ms Cameron suggests Sir Jeremy will use a “policy of ‘masterly inactivity’” – but wouldn’t that be exactly the sort of blocking or treading water that ministers like Maude have been complaining about?”
They have a point…
UPDATE: Westminster wag adds “It’s unfair to describe her as Jeremy Heywood’s mouthpiece; she takes briefings against him, but only from Sir Gus.”
Guido has collated the different parts of the speech briefed to different journalists to give a precis of what Dave would have said in Amsterdam:
“I want to speak to you today with urgency and frankness about the European Union and how it must change – both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples. I come here as British Prime Minister with a positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part.
Why raise fundamental questions about the future of Europe when Europe is already in the midst of a deep crisis? Why raise questions about Britain’s role when support in Britain is already so thin? There are always voices saying don’t ask the difficult questions. But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.
First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe. Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.
If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit. I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success and I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it. That is why I am here today: To acknowledge the nature of the challenges we face. To set out how I believe the European Union should respond to them. And to explain what I want to achieve for Britain and its place within the European Union.
If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit. There is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems. People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.
My point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same – less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs. And that will make our countries weaker, not stronger.”
Channelling the voice of John Major…
In the red corner: under-fire friend of the Brazilian transsexual Suzanne Moore and free speech advocate and lefty man of letters Nick Cohen. In the yellow corner: failed LibDem politician Evan Harris and Goldsmiths College press-hater Natalie Fenton. Last night Soho Skeptics played host to the B-list Leveson debate.
Moore was the woman people had come to see, and she received a rapturous welcome. The assortment of Leveson lovers in the audience soon changed their minds when she launched a staunch defence of the free press however. Moore strongly hinted that her time at the Guardian could be up following events of the last week, denouncing Comment Is Free as a “failed experiment” and ridiculing bosses for criticising her combative Twitter style. And that wasn’t her only comment that had lefty luvvies spitting out their white wine:
“This reminds me of pornography. Child pornography is already illegal, phone hacking is already illegal. What we are talking about is giving politicians more power over what we can and can’t see. At a time when trust in politicians is at its lowest ever, why on earth would we do that?”
A noble point, albeit colourfully expressed…