Diary: Police chief poll battle hots up as Labour fields heavies

 

Though the idea of elected police commissioners came from David Cameron, it is Labour which has been putting up the heavyweight candidates for the first round of elections in November. There is John Prescott in Hull, Alun Michael in Wales, and Tony Lloyd in Manchester – former ministers all. The Tories had one big name in the form of the Iraq war hero Tim Collins, but he dropped out.

Five thousand Labour Party members on Merseyside will receive ballot papers this week, so they can select their candidate from a choice of two former ministers and the current chairman of the police authority – but the contest threatens to get personal.

The shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, who was brought up in Aintree but is now MP for Leigh, has urged supporters to vote for Peter Kilfoyle, a frequent critic of Tony Blair and New Labour.

But there is a history of friction between Kilfoyle and Liverpool's newly elected mayor, Joe Anderson, who is backing the Blairite former minister Jane Kennedy. Anderson sent an email to party members in Liverpool, reported in the Liverpool Echo, with the sarcastic retort: "I am sure we are all deeply grateful he has taken the time to tell us what we need in Merseyside and who he is backing (if only he had a vote)."

'Dismal Des' Humphrys?

John Humphrys, whose grasp of detail makes him so formidable an interviewer, has revealed a hitherto unknown detail about himself – he started life not as John, but as Desmond, Humphrys.

"Dismal Des" was the subject of a summer interview at Chelsea's Cadogan Hall, and told his interviewer Rob McGibbon: "I was actually christened Desmond, but I got whooping cough when I was a toddler and was in a terrible state. My mum was worried other children would start calling me 'Dismal Desmond' because I was so sickly, so she changed my name to John. To this day, no one has ever called me Desmond – and lived!"

Opik's opponent: Callous by nature?

Lembit Opik, the attention-loving former Lib Dem MP, is still nursing a set of bruises after he rashly entered the wrestling ring with a professional named Kade Callous, whom he had previously accused of cheating.

Mr Callous makes no apology for the fact that his protagonist had to be carried out on a stretcher. He said: "I don't know what Lembit thought he was doing getting in the ring with me... I showed the world what Kade Callous can do and that I am not to be messed with."

No need to apologise, Nick

It is a curious habit of people who have benefited from a good education that they are embarrassed to admit to enjoying good literature. This is not the way with people who had a rougher start in life.

Jimmy Boyle, the reformed Glaswegian gangster, was not in the least embarrassed to record in his memoirs the impact that reading Crime and Punishment had on him when he was in solitary confinement as the most violent prisoner in Scotland. Brendan Behan likewise recorded the powerful impression the novel made on him while he was imprisoned in a borstal.

On another page we report that Nick Clegg also read Crime and Punishment while locked away in an institution – in his case Westminster School. But he feels the need to add, apologetically: "This book hit me at an impressionable point. It sounds a bit pretentious [and] makes me sound like a rather joyless teenager..." No it doesn't, Mr Clegg – it puts you in the same place as the most intelligent men who have ever written about the British penal system from the inside.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

SharePoint Administrator/Developer (C#, VB.NET, VISUAL STUDIO 2

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...

European HR Director, London

£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...

European Senior HR Manager, London

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation is...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal