Diary: Gove's persuasive ways of bringing people into line
Whatever the outcome of today's public-sector strike, the leaders of one of the unions involved are delighted with the latest achievement by the man they are coming to regard as their main recruiter, namely the Education Secretary, Michael Gove. On Monday, Mr Gove denounced "hardliners itching for a fight" who are behind the action, inspiring Scottish newspapers to republish the photograph of a young Gove on a journalists' picket line outside the office of the Aberdeen Press and Journal in 1989. On that same day, 300 university staff who were not already members applied to join the University and College Union. Previously, the union had never recruited more than 143 new members on any one day.
Our very own tea party for Al Jazeera
The staff of Al Jazeera may get a strange idea of how Parliament works, as more than 160 of them are expected at a reception today to mark the news network's 15th anniversary, where they will see MPs pouring tea and handing out cakes. This is not normal practice, but a one-off, because parliamentary staff are on strike.
The tea boy in chief will be the Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, who takes a close interest in Arab affairs, though his views are somewhere off the mainstream. In a Commons debate this week, he publicly rebuked his fellow Tory MPs for their "very hostile" attitude to Saudi Arabia.
"We have a liberal élite who want to denigrate Saudi Arabia at every opportunity," he complained. "The BBC, with its left-wing bias and determination not to report anything positive from Saudi Arabia, also contributes to the extraordinary drip-drip effect of negative press that it gets in this country."
Mr Kawczynski is writing a book which he has promised will be "the most pro-Saudi book ever written by a British politician".
Telegraph staff in cloud cuckoo land
A hilarious tale was posted on the Daily Telegraph website yesterday about an Irish councillor who allegedly thought that cloud computing worked best in places where the weather is bad.
Councillor Seamus Tiernan is reported to have told Galway County Council's Infrastructure Committee that Connemara could be a centre of excellence for cloud computing because it has thick fog for nine months of the year. This supposedly provoked Councillor Martin Shiels to call him a "fecking eejit", whereupon the affronted Councillor Tiernan told him to "go fuck yourself". This tale, reminiscent of the Irish jokes that were all the rage in the 1970s, had been passed around the internet for a week before washing ashore on the Telegraph website. A quick check would have turned up a couple of flaws in the story. Galway does not have an Infrastructure Committee, nor any councillors named Tiernan or Shiels. You've been had, boys.
Bragg's great leap backwards
For two general elections, the singer Billy Bragg was the nation's foremost tactical voter. He lives in marginal West Dorset, and argued that voting for the Liberal Democrats was the only realistic way to remove the incumbent Tory MP, Oliver Letwin.
Last week, he apologised live on stage, saying: "I voted tactically to get the Tories out but we got the Tories anyway." And on his website is a "2011 version" of the lyrics of his song "Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards", which now opens with the line, "It may have been Camelot for Clegg and Cameron/ But on Coalition Cul-de-Sac there's not much business going on." Definitely a lost Lib Dem vote there.
David, it was really nothing for your lot
Staying with 1980s rock legends, Johnny Marr, guitarist for The Smiths, has been talking to Uncut magazine about that day last December when he issued an order on Twitter forbidding David Cameron to call himself a fan of The Smiths.
"It all started when one of my friends on Twitter was bitching about David Cameron. I joined in, then went for a snooze – and woke up three hours later with 18,000 new followers, and invitations to appear on dozens of news programmes," he said. "It's annoying when senior Tories say they're Smiths fans. It makes my shoulders knot up just saying it! What bit of our political stance did they not get?"
It sounds like an echo of the explosion from Paul Weller when Cameron named "The Eton Rifles" as his favourite track. These middle-aged rockers were unhappy enough when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, but heaven knows they're miserable now.
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