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Diary: When quantitative easing was 'an admission of failure'


There was a tsunami of expert commentary on yesterday's decision by the Bank of England to inject another £50bn worth of quantitative easing into the economy. Some of it was positive, much of it negative. On the Conservative Party's own website there is a clear warning that QE is a last resort for a government whose other policies for tackling recession have failed...

"I don't think anyone should be pleased that we have reached this point. It is an admission of failure and carries considerable risk... This is a leap in the dark and we will see whether it works," said the shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, speaking in the days when QE was happening under a Labour government, on 5 March 2009.

MPs get expert help behind the board

When MPs take part in photo-opportunities, their role is usually to utter platitudes or perform simple tasks. But in Chess magazine, Labour's shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, and the Tory MP Jo Johnson are pictured taking part in a simultaneous chess match against grandmasters at the London Chess Classic.

To even things up, the MPs did have an adviser sitting alongside them – none other than Garry Kasparov – but his task was only to give hints on broad strategy not tell them which piece to move. The magazine also has a diagram showing how Rachel Reeves shrewdly sacrificed a bishop.

According to the picture caption, the grandmaster who replied to the move, Luke McShane, threw an accusing look at Kasparov, whom he suspected of giving more help than the rules allowed. But, it says, "he was innocent(ish)".

Falklands spat turns a little bitchy

Penguin News, the newspaper of the Falkland Islands, does not have a mass circulation, the population of the islands being no more than 3,000, but it reached out to a massive and largely Spanish-speaking audience on Wednesday after someone on the publication uploaded a photograph of Argentina's President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and gave it the file name "bitch". Spanish speakers in Argentina who did not know what the word meant were quickly enlightened by the Buenos Aires daily, La Nacion. As the uproar began, the editor of Penguin News, Lisa Watson, changed the link, which did not stop the stream of furious messages expressing sentiments such as "Invasores mother- fuckers y go home!"

An editor out of his comfort zone

Anyone who watched Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, at the Leveson Inquiry, could see a man who has commanded nothing but obedience for 20 years not enjoying the experience of being challenged and contradicted. He seemed to have real difficulty pronouncing the name of the actor Hugh Grant, who has been one of the Mail's leading accusers, and came perilously close to uttering that word he is said to use rather often, which also ends in –nt. At another point he tripped over his words and said: "I've exploded... I've explained." Right first time, sir.

Burley in another spot of bother

It was another bad day yesterday for Aidan Burley, the Tory MP who took part in a stag party in a French ski resort where fellow guests dressed as Nazis. He visited Auschwitz on Wednesday and attended a talk by a holocaust survivor. That should have gone a little way towards repairing the wreckage of his reputation – except that he was recognised by a teenager, Matthew Parkinson, who was in Poland on a history trip with his college.

Parkinson went on to Twitter to accuse the MP of being "blatantly disrespectful throughout" and of "texting and dozing". There were "a fair amount of witnesses" to this behaviour, he claimed.

This was in part denied in a statement issued by Dr James Smith, president of the Holocaust Centre, who is not a Tory voter and had organised the trip without anticipating that it would get publicity. "When he replied to a text from London, he was at the back of the hall, out of sight of the survivor. I was sitting next to him and... if he were asleep, I am sure I would have noticed," he said.

He may have been awake, but the undisputed fact remains that Burley read and answered to a text message during a live talk by a holocaust survivor. Someone with better manners would have turned his phone off.