Monday, 18 May 2009


An MPs expenses scandal isn’t great at the best of times for those involved, but it couldn’t have been worse than during a recession. Michael Martin looked weak as Speaker in front of the House of Commons on Monday [right] and there are clearly serious problems in politics at the moment. My sources on the Telegraph suggest that the paper have only touched the tip of the iceberg and there are many more stories in an investigation that could continue for months. The paper has recorded an average daily circulation increase of 100,000 over the last week which is a superb result and well deserved. So this all seems like a good time to call a General Election. Who knows what will happen? Perhaps Esther Rantzen and Joanna Lumley can show them how it’s done.

David Cameron is rightly petitioning for an immediate general election and for parliament to be dissolved, which would certainly be interesting. Wouldn’t you just love a general election at the moment? Not just expenses, but the economy is still a major issue and other topics like Gurkhas are taking up far more time than Gordon Brown would have wanted, whilst the British National Party continues to gain momentum. The European and council elections are coming up next month, which will be a good indicator of where people see this country going, but I fully expect that the results will be very surprising. Even the Green Party seem to be getting more exposure under Caroline Lucas, and it’s always good to have more choice. So go on Gordon, call an election. It’s not as if you’ve already tried to in the last few years. U-turn if you want to, Prime Minister.

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Last week the Evening Standard relaunched by telling readers that it was profoundly ‘sorry’ for being such a poor quality newspaper over the last few years. Now just imagine you were a journalist on that paper, thinking you’ve put in a tremendous amount of effort over the last year as cutbacks have begun to bite, and suddenly you’ve got to apologise. I would not be impressed. The Standard is always a good read - well worth the 50p more you have to spend than getting the free London Lite or thelondonpaper - and it’s build up to the Mayor of London elections was superb, showing its influence to get Boris Johnson into power. The paper has a team of top journalists including Andrew Gilligan, who won best journalist at the British Press Awards last year for his investigative work, and it’s just not right that this should be devalued. I hope new editor Geordie Grieg manages to improve the paper, but its still a top read in my opinion, and it’s a weak effort to simply criticise what has been done in the past. Perhaps he just wants to get one over Veronica Wadley.

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You might remember the famous Monty Python sketch where John Cleese teaches a group of men self-defence lessons using fruit. He said: “First of all you force him to drop the banana; then, second, you eat the banana, thus disarming him. You have now rendered him ’elpless.” Just to clarify, this was a comedy - not for real, but an America teenager tried to rob a shop last week with a banana, then ate it to destroy the evidence. But as John Szwalla, 17, could not swallow the skin it was photographed by police in North Carolina. Reports suggest he told staff he had a gun but he had a banana. Shop owner Bobby Mabe said: “If he had had a gun he would've shot me, but he had a banana.” What a classic - some people really are phenomenally stupid. It would only happen in America.

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I really hope we get World Cup 2018 in England. What better people to launch the bid than David Beckham Brown and Prince William. Whilst Brown might be an avid Raith Rovers fan (and you thought supporting Southend United was bad), Prince William knows far more about racing about on horses with sticks [right] than kicking a ball. Surely we could have picked better people to head up the bid! Alan Shearer’s not got much on his plate at the moment. But it’s been a while since we had international football in this country during Euro 1996, and we did pretty well that time. The home nation always has a big advantage, so maybe this will be the only way in which England could win the tournament in the next 10 years. Hopefully FIFA will come to their senses and realise that this is the best footballing country in the world, and therefore deserves the competition. It’s not as if the 2012 Olympics are going to serve up that many great matches...