I am really feeling quite chipper about the political extinction of Tony Blair ...a gloomy Scotch mist has descended on Westminster...I rejoiced - and then Brown began to speak You know what, I decided about lunchtime yesterday that I couldn't take any more. The whole thing was turning into a blubfest of nauseating proportions. First we had the Pyongyang-style standing ovation, in which hundreds of hypocritical parliamentarians clapped their hands sore in celebration of Tony Blair - when a great many of them have spent the past 10 years actively trying to winkle him out of Downing Street, a group that includes many on his own side, and above all his successor. Then poor Margaret Beckett was so overwhelmed that she started to weep, and had to be "comforted" by John Reid, a procedure that is surely enough to make anyone snap out of it. And then we had the cavalcade moving off to the Palace, and what with the hushed tones of the newscasters and the thudding of the television helicopters overhead, the whole thing started to remind me of Diana's funeral. "It has been a very emotional day," said Sky News's Adam Boulton. "I have seen some incredible things today, things I never thought I would see." What were these incredible things? "I have seen the Blairs' exercise bicycle removed from Number 10," groaned the honest fellow; and across Britain one imagined the Sky audience returning their sodden handkerchiefs to their eyes as they were racked with fresh bouts of sobbing. The exercise bicycle! The Prime Ministerial exercise bicycle! Never more to be used in Downing Street again! Woe, woe and thrice woe! Even among the cynical brainboxes who sit here in the shadow ministry for higher education, I noticed a certain oohing and aahing, and so you will understand that I was seized with a desire to puncture the mood. Enough, I thought, of this glutinous sentimentality, and prepared to denounce the entire proceedings as a fraud. Continue reading Goodbye to Blair
The British public ... were at no stage invited to vote on whether Gordon Brown should be PM. I don't remember any Labour spokesman revealing that they planned to do a big switcheroo after only two years. ..a transition about as democratically proper as the transition from Claudius to Nero.Brown's looking for a Scottish ally It's the arrogance. It's the contempt. That's what gets me. It's Gordon Brown's apparent belief that he can just trample on the democratic will of the British people. It's at moments like this that I think the political world has gone mad, and I am alone in detecting the gigantic fraud. Everybody seems to have forgotten that the last general election was only two years ago, in 2005. A man called Tony Blair presented himself for re-election, and his face was to be seen - even if less prominently than in the past - on manifestos, leaflets, television screens and billboards. We rather gathered from the Labour prospectus that said Blair was going to be Prime Minister. Indeed, Tony sought a new mandate from the British electorate with the explicit promise that he would serve a full term. The British public sucked its teeth, squinted at him closely, sighed and, with extreme reluctance, decided to elect him Prime Minister for another five years. Let me repeat that. They voted for Anthony Charles Lynton Blair to serve as their leader. They were at no stage invited to vote on whether Gordon Brown should be PM. Continue reading Gordon Brown
Illustrissime Boris ultimus Romanorum floreas natali die tuo semperque futuro. Not everyone has the cojones to endorse a political candidate during the selection process. But you came through last year with a superb message of support, which had everyone who read it in hysterics. Hard not to win with friends like that. Thank you, my best as ever and Happy Birthday, Jesse. Virginia Satir said: "Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible -- the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family." Boris has nurtured an on-line family of people passionate about the world they live in. Through this blog he gives everyone a voice and we wish him a most happy birthday. You're the best Boris!
it is the height of stupidity, on Blair's part, to think that it might be an idea to start regulating the blogosphere I would much rather have cyberspace regulated by public scorn than by Tony BlairGod save the media Oh for heaven's sake, can someone please tiptoe up behind our poor prating ex-Prime Minister to be and tell him that the show is over? Come on, Cherie, Alastair, Peter - whoever still composes the depleted Praetorian Guard - tell the old boy to put a sock in it before he does himself a serious embarrassment. I think it would be fair to say that we have heard some self-serving twaddle from Tony Blair in the past 10 years, and yet his "I blame the media" speech was not only hypocritical and sinister: it was downright insulting to the intelligence of the British public. Continue reading Tony Blair and the Media
Who thought of health warnings on wine? And there I was - all set to blame Brussels. As soon as I heard there was some loony plan to put health warnings on wine bottles, my Eurosceptic aero engines began to rev and whirr. I knew where the culprits must be, and the all-purpose vertical take-off Euro-rant began to throb on the launching pad. Could they really be serious? Were we really going to have labels on wine bottles, warning the consumer that the contents might make him drunk? It was insane, and there was only one type of bureaucrat - or so I instinctively thought - who would dare to promote such lunacy. As I prepared my continental bombing raid, I could see my target in my imagination. That's right: it was some Swedish divorcee health commissioner, sitting in her velour slacks in her taupe-coloured office in the Breydel building, Brussels; and I could just imagine the imperious set of her jaw as she put down her glass of Badoit and prepared to Mont Blanc her initials under the EU edict that alcohol was henceforward to be clearly labelled as a poison; and in my rage I reached for another lunchtime glass of Mazis-Chambertin 2000, to fortify myself for the rigours of composing my column, and I can tell you that it was with all bomb bays fully loaded that I arrived at my desk; and I was on the very point of launching the great Brussels-busting task force when I paused. Continue reading British Drinks Industry
First class honours to the Conservative Future group at the University of Birmingham. Their blog www.bucf.wordpress.com has earned them accolades in the highest places. Iain Dale no less, himself shortlisted for the Guardian's political blog of the year award, has named these Brumdergrads the best Young Conservative bloggers on the web. Similar laurels were awarded by the Tory grassroots website Conservativehome.com. Dive straight in to a pool of well-written and perceptive commentary on subjects ranging from the "ridiculous" Olympic logo to army recruitment, Cameron on grammar schools, gay rights, anti-terrorist powers, abortion, overcrowded prisons... plus some hilarious YouTube links. Congrats to you all for showing that independent, progressive thought is still flourishing in our universities. So what's their secret? Ryan Castle, BUCF's Treasurer, says:
We endeavour to produce at least one new blog each day, a little less successfully in exam periods! Our main strength is our variety; we have many strong contributors each with very different political interests. This means that you will always find a huge plethora of subjects being commented on. We are trying to re-engage students with politics and convince them of a Conservative viewpoint. The direction the party is going under Cameron is right for this. His liberal agenda - reflected in our own chairman's views- is at last allowing us to present a modern and dynamic party both locally with students and nationally.
Order this new book from Amazon now! My love affair with the car will never conk out
They have been demonised and are portrayed as a threat to the planet but, says self-confessed speed-freak Boris Johnson, cars are a force for liberty and democracyFor years after that terrible death, I felt a pang every time I pulled into Oxford station. Boris Johnson: 'An Englishman's car used to be his castle, or at least his mobile fort' There was the scrapyard. There was the grabber with its evil jaws. Whenever I saw it I remembered the T-Rex aggression with which it lurched down on its victim; pausing and juddering as though savouring the moment. It smashed through the windows, the windscreen, buckling the paper-thin steel. I heard the whine of the crusher and I turned away. I could not listen to the death agonies of my driving companion, or see the reproachful look in those loyal headlights. Even today I cannot go past that knacker's yard without bidding peace to its ghost. A Fiat 128 two-door saloon, 1.2 litres, the Italian Stallion was the trusty steed that emancipated me from the shackles of childhood. Inside that happy brown plastic cabin, with its curious fungal growth on the roof, there took place all manner of brawls, romance, heartbreak and general growing-up. Above all, it was the car in which I had my first crash. No one knew how it came to be in the family. My mother claims it was hers, though other sources suggest that my father bought it in Brussels, from a squash opponent called Sue. It was sitting in the yard one day when my brother Leo and I decided to take it for a ride. Neither of us could drive, but there is a two-mile dirt track that links our farm to the main road, and we felt we could learn. We lolloped off, groaning in first gear, until finally we reached the main road where the machine stalled and a cloud of steam rose from the bonnet. We had a problem. We had to turn round, and we couldn't go on the metalled road, since neither of us had a licence. But we hadn't done a turn before and we were aware of another car about 20 yards away. This obstacle was probably the only other vehicle within five square miles of this bit of under-populated moorland. With every manoeuvre, we seemed to arc ever closer to the other machine, as if sucked by some fatal magnet. Now our boot was just feet from its bonnet, and it was necessary to reverse. I had never reversed a car before. The wheels spun in the dust, we shot backwards and, with a smooth easy grace, we shunted the only other car in the district rapidly and deftly into a tree. When the tinkling had stopped, Leo broke the silence and said: ''Hey, that was great,'' speaking for every human being who has ever experienced the thrill of the automobile - the joy of moving far faster than nature intended, by a process you barely understand, and yet somehow surviving. Continue reading Life in the Fast Lane: The Johnson Guide to Cars