The Diary: Brussels promises unseen levels of inactivity

When Belgian trade unions get stroppy, they cause disruption on a scale to make Bob Crow green with envy. When David Cameron and other heads of government assemble in Brussels on Monday for a session of the European Council, they will see a city at a standstill.

Advice has gone out that anyone thinking of arriving by rail or air should book a hotel room for Sunday night and be in Brussels by 10pm, because after that hour, says an advice note, "public transport in Brussels will be heavily disrupted or even non-existent". Those going by car should expect heavy jams, not to mention demonstrations and roadblocks. And they will not be able to look forward to the usual lavish free nosh when they finally get through, because the caterers will be on strike, too, although there will be sandwiches and drinks.

The dispute is over cuts that will make it harder to retire early and reductions in unemployment benefit.

A pox on both your houses

Talks between Westminster and the Scottish Executive over plans for a referendum on independence have run into a spot of bother – or, rather, a lot of spots. The Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, has had to cancel his meeting with the First Minister, Alex Salmond, because he has gone down with chicken pox.

Any other Cabinet ministers who did not have the disease in childhood could be in for similar problems because Downing Street says Moore was "infectious and contagious" when he attended a Cabinet meeting earlier in the week.

A peerless fighter for his own cause

We do not hear much about Lord Black of Crossharbour in this country. The former proprietor of the Daily Telegraph has not set foot in the House of Lords for years because of his travails with the US legal system. He was jailed for fraud in 2007, released in 2010, and sent back to prison last June – none of which affects his status in the UK as a life peer.

But Americans are treated regularly to Lord Black's views on current affairs, via the Huffington Post and National Review online. This month he has called for a show of force against Iran, railed against Barack Obama and Warren Buffet, paid fulsome tribute to Margaret Thatcher, and backed Jeb Bush to be the next US President. But the peer, pictured right, displays his greatest eloquence when discussing the "colossal injustices and failures in the US justice criminal system". Lord Black is unswervingly convinced of one thing – he is an innocent man, wrongly imprisoned.

Heir stands aside to be with Wallis

The husband of Diana Wallis, the Liberal Democrat MEP who quit her seat after failing in her bid to be elected president of the European Parliament, has decided not to keep the job in the family. The rules of the "list" system of proportional representation used to elect MEPs gave Stewart Arnold an automatic right to take his wife's place, a prospect that so appalled another Liberal Democrat MEP, Chris Davies, that he resigned his post as chief whip.

Yesterday, Mr Arnold voluntarily pulled out. Rebecca Taylor, another Liberal Democrat, is now entitled to the seat if she wants it.

Spring conferences lose their bounce

Spring conferences used to be the second-biggest items on a political party's calendar. It was a chance for party stalwarts to spend a pleasant weekend arguing, plotting, and mingling with the famous, under the gimlet eyes of the mass media. But where there used to be three of these events, this year there is only one, for the Liberal Democrats, who will spend three days in Gateshead in March being democratic.

The cash-strapped Labour Party has cancelled its spring conference outright, while the Tories have reduced theirs to a single day's gathering in central London with no journalists but just one television camera sending pooled pictures to all channels.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried