The rise of Brandy Wandy signals the end for Silly Mili

What he is calling for, in other words, is total global chaos and destruction. It is also true that much of the book consists of gibberish. A fairly representative sentence runs: “The significance of consciousness itself as a participant in what we perceive as reality is increasingly negating what we understood to be objectivity.” Yes, it is bilge; but that is not the point. Who cares what he really means or what he really thinks? The crucial thing about Russell Brand is that he seems to be popular – to strike a chord with people. After the long years of the post-crunch recession, there are many of a radical temper – especially young people – who are hoping for a prophet, for a new way, for someone who will show how humanity can subvert the long and imperfect reign of essentially free-market global capitalist democracy. It goes without saying that most of these people are on the Left. They want (or claim to want) a more “equal” society, to put down the mighty from their seat, to exalt the humble and meek – and so on.

In fastening their attention on Russell and his brand of semi-religious pseudo-economic mumbo-jumbo, they are revealing something very significant about modern politics: and that is the total failure of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party to motivate or inspire – at either end of the Left-wing coalition. Miliband and Ed Balls have long since alienated the Blairites. We have ministers actively briefing against the Labour leadership, and last week we were told authoritatively that Mr Tony does not think Ed has made any kind of case to govern the country.

We have Blairite stalwarts such as Tessa Jowell campaigning, correctly, against the so-called Mansion Tax – a tax that threatens to fall viciously on cash-poor Londoners who are living in expensive homes. But it is not just that Ed has lost touch with moderate Labour; he is the most Left-wing Labour leader since Michael Foot – and yet he can’t even stir the blood of the radical Left. Russell Brand is part of a phenomenon of general Labour hopelessness that has seen a huge increase in Scottish support for the SNP.

When Ed was told not to come campaigning for the Union in Scotland, that was because he is seen as being too much part of the Establishment – another besuited politician of the kind that Russell Brand deplores. The Scottish Labour Party is now in a meltdown, its leader having resigned because, among other things, Ed would not let her bash the so-called “bedroom tax” for a whole year, while he made up his mind about the issue. The result is that Labour could now lose between 10 and 20 Scottish seats to the SNP, and Scottish Labour is so desperate that it is actually thinking of bringing back Gordon Brown.

In the west of England, Left-wing votes are draining away to the Greens. In the North, as we saw at Middleton and Heywood, the party is seeing its chair legs sawn away by Ukip. The polls are now level pegging between Labour and Tories; the Labour lead has vanished; and as the election gets closer, people will be asking tougher and tougher questions of Ed Miliband, and about where he stands.

Take the issue of the hour – the EU demand that Britain should pay an extra £1.7 billion to the budget. We have heard a fierce and fine explanation from David Cameron: he thinks the surcharge is outrageous and another good reason for reforming the EU budgetary processes. What would Ed Miliband do, if he faced the same bill? To ask the question is to answer it: he would do nothing – nothing, that is, except cough up.

Russell Brand may be about as convincing as a political theorist as a toaster made by Russell Hobbs, but he is at least engaging his Left-wing audience with something they can recognise as passion.

Alas, I don’t have the slightest confidence that he will run for Mayor of London – as his publicists were confiding yesterday to a credulous media. But I would be thrilled if he did. As a phenomenon he is a sign of the disintegration of the Left and the weakness of Ed Miliband, and he therefore needs every possible encouragement.

The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, review: ‘a breathless romp’

It reads at times like a mixture of Monty Python and the Horrible Histories. He describes the French generals during the Second World War as “white-haired dodderers in their Clouseau-like kepis” commanding “an origami army”. Hitler and Himmler are part of a “demented crew” with “deranged plans” for a new world capital called Germania. “At its heart was to be the Hall of the People – a demented granite version of the Pantheon of Agrippa.”

Meanwhile, our great wartime leader, according to Johnson, spent the war dressed in “strange Victorian/Edwardian garb”, giving the appearance of “some burly and hung-over butler from the set of Downton Abbey”.

At one point Johnson deliberately invokes one of Monty Python’s more iconic images as he ponders how British fortunes may have fared during the war without Churchill at the helm. “Let’s send down one of those giant Monty Python hands,” he postulates, “and pluck him [Churchill] from the smoke-filled room. Let us suppose that he’d copped it as a young man, on one of those occasions when he had set out so boisterously to cheat death.”

Nor is the author shy about placing himself centre stage in the narrative. He writes about visiting Chartwell, Churchill’s family home in Kent, in an attempt to better understand the “teeming brain that helped invent the tank and the seaplane and which foresaw the atom bomb”.

Johnson’s novel conclusion is that the entire house has been constructed as “a gigantic engine for the generation of text”, enabling Churchill, who was to become the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, to produce more words than Shakespeare and Dickens combined.

In another classic Johnsonian diversion, he sets off on his bicycle in the rain along the Romford Road in east London to visit the grave of Churchill’s beloved nanny, Mrs Everest. “I am soaked. My blue suit is black and shiny with water and there is a sucking noise in my shoes as I get off my bike.” As with the many other visits Johnson undertakes in the course of the narrative, there is a more serious purpose underlying his humorous antics.

The gravestone Churchill and his brother Jack erected to Mrs Everest’s memory is testimony to Churchill’s deep humanity.

Indeed, as with so much Johnson does in his public endeavours, there is a profound point underscoring all the levity and bravura. As the title suggests, the book is an exploration of the many distinctive facets of Churchill’s character that made him the man he was, and provided him with the inner strength and spirit that enabled him to save the British nation in its darkest hour.

While Johnson is clearly an admirer of Churchill, it can be difficult to see what new insights he brings to the study of the statesman. The obvious subtext, of course, is that Johnson is seeking to compare his own reputation as a political maverick with that of Churchill, which poses the question: what would Winston Churchill have made of Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson will be taking part in a Q&A with Gaby Wood on October 23 at Imperial College London. Tickets are £40 (including a signed copy of The Churchill Factor) and are available from telegraph.co.uk/borisjohnson.

The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson

416pp, Hodder, Telegraph offer price: £20 (PLUS £1.95 p&p) (RRP £25, ebook £8.96). Call 0844 871 1515 or see books.telegraph.co.uk

Strip Queen of fracking riches and share them with homeowners, says Boris Johnson

“I think it’s completely ridiculous. I think landowners and householders have rights to diamonds and titanium or something like that and other precious metals but not to hydrocarbons.

“That is in my view why there is a huge fracking revolution going on in America and there isn’t one over here because there is absolutely no incentive for the householder or the property holder to get on and do it.

“It’s all taken by the state and there is no motive to get going… that is the change that needs to be brought into the law to give people the rights to the stuff that exists beneath their property.”

The British Geological Survey has estimated that there are 4.4bn barrels of shale oil in the Weald Basin just south of London

The Department for Energy and Climate Change said that precious metals (gold and silver) are mostly in private ownership in Great Britain - with the exception of energy minerals (oil, gas and coal).

A DECC spokesman said: “It's only fair that the whole community ‘share the financial benefits of shale exploration. “Industry has committed to giving communities £100,000 for every exploratory shale well-site where there is fracking - whether they manage to get any gas out or not - and local people will receive one per cent of the revenue from any of the gas found.

“Shale gas has got great potential to create jobs, bolster local economies as well as giving us a secure, domestic energy resource.”

This trade deal with America would have Churchill beaming

I do not wish in any way to inflame these numskulls, but it is not just that their fears are overdone. They are talking rubbish. Almost every single objection to the current proposals is based on pure superstition. There is nothing wrong with American food, for goodness’ sake. Millions of British tourists eat the stuff with every sign of enjoyment, and whatever goes on in the American meat and poultry industry, it is no more sinister than what happens over here. Fears about genetically modified organisms are a load of semi-religious mumbo-jumbo. As for American cars, they are just as safe as European cars, and their emission standards are getting tighter the whole time.

These people who worry about TTIP should try actually living in America. Try parking your recreational vehicle outside the designated oblong in Yosemite national park or try reading the encyclopaedic information on the side of a carton of orange juice, and you will see that America is about the most regulated market on earth. If we get the TTIP agreed, it will certainly not mean the privatisation of the NHS, and nor will it mean a green light for fracking Sussex. At the very most it will mean that there is some protection against government deciding – locally, at state level, or nationally – to legislate in some arbitrary and unexpected way so as to discriminate against foreign companies. That strikes me as a very useful thing for British companies, both large and small.

This new free-trade pact with America is not a threat: it is a sensational opportunity to break down the remaining barriers to trade with the country that already takes 17 per cent of our exports – the biggest single export destination for Britain. There is a big and growing market for the aerospace sector, in which Britain is strong: many US airlines are renewing their fleets. There is the chance to build on the amazing success of British car manufacturing, with fuel-efficient cars for the top of the market. America is the home to more affluent households – with disposable income of more than $300,000 – than any other country. The US is therefore a superb market for luxury British brands. The Americans want more and more of the stuff we are good at: apps, life sciences, media, culture, you name it.

The tariff barriers between us are now low – down to 3 per cent. But it is the non-tariff barriers that need to be blown away, the fiddly stipulations that are furtively used to keep out foreign competition. If we can get the EU-US free trade pact done in the next 12 months, we will boost the British economy by about £10 billion per year, and boost the whole of the EU by £100 billion. That is not to be sneezed at – not when the eurozone is once again dangling over the lip of a downturn.

This pact is a massive potential win for humanity – the closer economic union between two vast territories that share a tradition of democracy, free speech, pluralism: the Western values that are under threat in so many other parts of the world; and where almost everyone has English as a first or second language. Trade between Europe and the US is already worth $4.7 trillion; this is the chance to go further. If the EU can’t pull it off, we in Britain should offer to go first and do it ourselves.

Boris Johnson’s new book 'The Churchill Factor’ (Hodder) is available from Telegraph Books

Boris Johnson meets his match

It is hardly a “horror tackle”: the leg flicks out, the opponent goes down. Still, when the tackler is the Mayor of London, and the opposing player is a nine-year-old boy, the contest cannot help but seem a little one-sided.

Mind you, whenever politicians take to the football field – or even invoke it – the results rarely reflect well on them. The Mayor himself notoriously subjected an opponent, in a charity match between England and Germany, to a crunching rugby tackle. Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, is such a vigorous competitor that he recently elbowed a journalist in the face; Tony Blair could barely see a football without engaging in a game of keepy-uppy. The idea is doubtless to burnish their “common man” credentials – but they should remember that voters will judge them on their capacity to govern, not to execute a well-taken free kick.

Ban on smoking in parks would be ‘bossy’, says London Mayor

"I think smoking is a scourge and it's right to discourage it (but) I am very sceptical at the moment."

He drew on personal experience as he described his opposition: "I have to think back to my own life two decades ago when my wife and I had a baby.

"It came to that point when everybody was asleep and I was in such a mood of absolute elation I wondered out into a park in Islington and it was in the middle of winter but I laid on the ground and had a cigar.

"I don't want to be in a city where somebody can stand over me and say you've got to pay £115 for doing something that is of no harm to anybody except me."

He insisted there is "a great deal in this superb report that we can take forward".

There appeared to be no appetite from the Government to roll out a ban on smoking in parks nationally.

Asked whether David Cameron would back a ban on smoking in public parks, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "The Government has no plans for that."

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: "All local taxpayers, including smokers, should be able to enjoy the use of municipal parks, provided they show social responsibility towards others."

Lord Darzi said he respected the Mayor's opinion but insisted he believed smoke-free parks would become a reality.

He said: "We have started a debate today. I think this debate will continue.

"I have no doubt in London in due course, certainly in my lifetime, the parks will be smoke-free.

"I am a cancer surgeon and I have seen the impact of smoke in cancer and I would like our parks to be the beacon of health in London."

Antismoking campaign group ASH welcomed the report but Simon Clarke of pro-smoking group Forest said a ban would be "outrageous".

In a blog post, he wrote: "There's no health risk to anyone other than the smoker. If you don't like the smell, walk away.

"Tobacco is a legal product. The next thing you know, we'll be banned from smoking in our own gardens in case a whiff of smoke travels over the fence."

Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, said the plan "seems draconian" and "tests the limits of how far it is reasonable to limit the freedoms of some members of society in what is seen as a good cause".

But he said it could save lives.

"If it helped as few as 100 smokers a year to stop who would otherwise have carried on, that would amount to some 50 human lives saved a year," he said.

Prof West said the success of the potential measures would hinge on the approach of smokers.

"If smokers overwhelmingly support such a ban, having heard all the arguments, then it seems reasonable to put it into place. If they don't, then it probably is not and in any event may not be enforceable without their consent."

Professor John Britton, who leads the tobacco advisory group for the Royal College of Physicians, said that if London takes up the ban, councils up and down the country would quickly follow like "dominoes".

He said: "The ban is a very good idea. Prohibiting smoking in a few places has a symbolic effect. It is a small step, but it is the kind of thing that, if rolled out nationally, could have a big impact.

"I know there are other councils thinking about the same measures."

He said Nottingham City Council said last month it would extend its successful no-smoking policy for children's playgrounds to other public places where the community wants it, and other local authorities are said to be considering similar measures.

Prof Britton said: "Unquestionably, this would have an effect across the country. If someone takes the plunge, we will see a domino effect. It could save lives."

The report has further recommendations to improve health, including minimum pricing for alcohol, traffic-light labelling on restaurant menus, restrictions on "junk food outlets" near schools, Oyster card discounts for people who walk part of the way to work, and measures to reduce air pollution.

It also calls for a £1 billion investment to modernise GP surgeries, one third of which the report found to be "very poor" or "unacceptable".

Other measures in the Better Health For London report include selling off unused NHS land and giving new mothers control of some of the payment for their care.

Boris Johnson calls ban on smoking in parks ‘bossy’

"I think smoking is a scourge and it's right to discourage it (but) I am very sceptical at the moment."

He drew on personal experience as he described his opposition: "I have to think back to my own life two decades ago when my wife and I had a baby.

"It came to that point when everybody was asleep and I was in such a mood of absolute elation I wondered out into a park in Islington and it was in the middle of winter but I laid on the ground and had a cigar.

"I don't want to be in a city where somebody can stand over me and say you've got to pay £115 for doing something that is of no harm to anybody except me."

He insisted there is "a great deal in this superb report that we can take forward".

There appeared to be no appetite from the Government to roll out a ban on smoking in parks nationally.

Asked whether David Cameron would back a ban on smoking in public parks, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "The Government has no plans for that."

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: "All local taxpayers, including smokers, should be able to enjoy the use of municipal parks, provided they show social responsibility towards others."

Lord Darzi said he respected the Mayor's opinion but insisted he believed smoke-free parks would become a reality.

He said: "We have started a debate today. I think this debate will continue.

"I have no doubt in London in due course, certainly in my lifetime, the parks will be smoke-free.

"I am a cancer surgeon and I have seen the impact of smoke in cancer and I would like our parks to be the beacon of health in London."

Antismoking campaign group ASH welcomed the report but Simon Clarke of pro-smoking group Forest said a ban would be "outrageous".

In a blog post, he wrote: "There's no health risk to anyone other than the smoker. If you don't like the smell, walk away.

"Tobacco is a legal product. The next thing you know, we'll be banned from smoking in our own gardens in case a whiff of smoke travels over the fence."

Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, said the plan "seems draconian" and "tests the limits of how far it is reasonable to limit the freedoms of some members of society in what is seen as a good cause".

But he said it could save lives.

"If it helped as few as 100 smokers a year to stop who would otherwise have carried on, that would amount to some 50 human lives saved a year," he said.

Prof West said the success of the potential measures would hinge on the approach of smokers.

"If smokers overwhelmingly support such a ban, having heard all the arguments, then it seems reasonable to put it into place. If they don't, then it probably is not and in any event may not be enforceable without their consent."

Professor John Britton, who leads the tobacco advisory group for the Royal College of Physicians, said that if London takes up the ban, councils up and down the country would quickly follow like "dominoes".

He said: "The ban is a very good idea. Prohibiting smoking in a few places has a symbolic effect. It is a small step, but it is the kind of thing that, if rolled out nationally, could have a big impact.

"I know there are other councils thinking about the same measures."

He said Nottingham City Council said last month it would extend its successful no-smoking policy for children's playgrounds to other public places where the community wants it, and other local authorities are said to be considering similar measures.

Prof Britton said: "Unquestionably, this would have an effect across the country. If someone takes the plunge, we will see a domino effect. It could save lives."

The report has further recommendations to improve health, including minimum pricing for alcohol, traffic-light labelling on restaurant menus, restrictions on "junk food outlets" near schools, Oyster card discounts for people who walk part of the way to work, and measures to reduce air pollution.

It also calls for a £1 billion investment to modernise GP surgeries, one third of which the report found to be "very poor" or "unacceptable".

Other measures in the Better Health For London report include selling off unused NHS land and giving new mothers control of some of the payment for their care.

Boris Johnson: ban on smoking in parks would be ‘bossy and nannying’

"I think smoking is a scourge and it's right to discourage it (but) I am very sceptical at the moment."

He drew on personal experience as he described his opposition: "I have to think back to my own life two decades ago when my wife and I had a baby.

"It came to that point when everybody was asleep and I was in such a mood of absolute elation I wondered out into a park in Islington and it was in the middle of winter but I laid on the ground and had a cigar.

"I don't want to be in a city where somebody can stand over me and say you've got to pay £115 for doing something that is of no harm to anybody except me."

He insisted there is "a great deal in this superb report that we can take forward".

There appeared to be no appetite from the Government to roll out a ban on smoking in parks nationally.

Asked whether David Cameron would back a ban on smoking in public parks, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "The Government has no plans for that."

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: "All local taxpayers, including smokers, should be able to enjoy the use of municipal parks, provided they show social responsibility towards others."

Lord Darzi said he respected the Mayor's opinion but insisted he believed smoke-free parks would become a reality.

He said: "We have started a debate today. I think this debate will continue.

"I have no doubt in London in due course, certainly in my lifetime, the parks will be smoke-free.

"I am a cancer surgeon and I have seen the impact of smoke in cancer and I would like our parks to be the beacon of health in London."

Antismoking campaign group ASH welcomed the report but Simon Clarke of pro-smoking group Forest said a ban would be "outrageous".

In a blog post, he wrote: "There's no health risk to anyone other than the smoker. If you don't like the smell, walk away.

"Tobacco is a legal product. The next thing you know, we'll be banned from smoking in our own gardens in case a whiff of smoke travels over the fence."

Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, said the plan "seems draconian" and "tests the limits of how far it is reasonable to limit the freedoms of some members of society in what is seen as a good cause".

But he said it could save lives.

"If it helped as few as 100 smokers a year to stop who would otherwise have carried on, that would amount to some 50 human lives saved a year," he said.

Prof West said the success of the potential measures would hinge on the approach of smokers.

"If smokers overwhelmingly support such a ban, having heard all the arguments, then it seems reasonable to put it into place. If they don't, then it probably is not and in any event may not be enforceable without their consent."

Professor John Britton, who leads the tobacco advisory group for the Royal College of Physicians, said that if London takes up the ban, councils up and down the country would quickly follow like "dominoes".

He said: "The ban is a very good idea. Prohibiting smoking in a few places has a symbolic effect. It is a small step, but it is the kind of thing that, if rolled out nationally, could have a big impact.

"I know there are other councils thinking about the same measures."

He said Nottingham City Council said last month it would extend its successful no-smoking policy for children's playgrounds to other public places where the community wants it, and other local authorities are said to be considering similar measures.

Prof Britton said: "Unquestionably, this would have an effect across the country. If someone takes the plunge, we will see a domino effect. It could save lives."

The report has further recommendations to improve health, including minimum pricing for alcohol, traffic-light labelling on restaurant menus, restrictions on "junk food outlets" near schools, Oyster card discounts for people who walk part of the way to work, and measures to reduce air pollution.

It also calls for a £1 billion investment to modernise GP surgeries, one third of which the report found to be "very poor" or "unacceptable".

Other measures in the Better Health For London report include selling off unused NHS land and giving new mothers control of some of the payment for their care.

Boris Johnson ‘fouls’ boy in children’s football match

He was hardly the most intimidating of opponents but that didn’t stop Boris Johnson resorting to a clumsy tackle to block his school boy adversary.

Faced with the possible mortification of the speedy player skilfully dribbling past him the Mayor of London appeared stick out a foot to block the youngster’s path - toppling him over in the process.

The young player, who appeared to be kitted out in a mini-Sunderland kit, was unfazed and sportsmanlike getting straight up and back into the game, the mayor put up his hands in a gesture of apology.

Mr Johnson has previous form on the football pitch. His astonishing take down of a German player in a charity light-hearted attempt to recreate the great game of 1966.

Played in front of 15,000 people at the Madejski stadium in Reading the tackle appeared to be more at home at Twickenham.

Mr Johnson was playing football with the school children as part of a photo-call for a new health report for London. He and the pioneering surgeon and former health minister Lord Darzi met London schoolchildren playing football as part of London United.

The citywide initiative involves all 15 London football clubs and encourages youngsters to get more active, although they may think twice about taking on the Mayor again.

The answer to the Ukip anger is simple: vote David Cameron

Is it the French bankers? The American academics? The Chinese tycoons? Who is it, precisely, that is so noisome in your nostrils? Whose language is it that you find most offensive on the buses?

At this point, of course, the kipper – and everyone who agrees with them – will get rather impatient, and say, look here: I don’t object to any particular person, and I have nothing against any particular group. It is just the number of them, that’s what bothers me, they will say. It’s the speed of the change, they say – and above all it’s the fact that politicians keep dissembling about it all.

And there, my friends, I think we must accept that the kippers and would-be kippers have a point. The anger is not against immigrants; there is no real resentment of people who come here, work hard, learn to speak English and make their lives in this country. The anger is against the politicians.

In some ways that is reasonable. The first and biggest culprit was Tony Blair, who grossly miscalculated the effect of EU enlargement. He decided to dispense with the border protections adopted by other EU countries – such as France and Germany – and to welcome a massive influx from Hungary, Poland and the other EU accession countries in 2004.

This surge of energy and talent was, of course, a boon to British business and industry; but it was a direct attack on the Labour core vote. Workers found their wages suppressed, and then they were accused of bigotry if they complained.

As the recession bit deeper, resentment of foreigners intensified – and it was then that the political class made a second huge mistake. The electorate was told that we could reduce the numbers of immigrants – when in fact it was legally impossible to do so. A huge effort was made to cut down the number of non-EU immigrants, with the result that it has become very hard to get into Britain if you are, say, a New Zealand nuclear physicist or a Chinese cellist.

But there is no way, under current UK law, that we can stop people entering this country in large numbers from all 28 EU countries, including those where wages and benefits are very much lower than our own.

The voters aren’t fools. They have spotted this incoherence – and what they object to is not so much the immigrants themselves; what makes people angry is that sense that the whole thing is out of control. There is only one man who has both grasped what needs to be done and who is in a position to do it, and that is David Cameron.

Britain is now the America of the EU; the place people want to come; the magnet for the hordes at Calais. It is only reasonable for us to have some kind of further protections – involving points or even quotas, agreed with business – so that we can manage this pressure. It would be madness to close our borders to talent; but it is also madness to continue with a system that means we have no idea how many are coming or what burdens they may place on the state.

Only David Cameron can conceivably deliver those changes, since he is the only leader who can lead reform of the EU. That is the point I hope the kippers will recognise in May next year. And the rest of us should recognise, in turn, that the kippers aren’t wicked. They don’t hate immigrants; they just hate the lack of control of immigration.