We all knew that David Cameron was just playing games when he insisted that if Ukip was to be included in any televised debate, the Green Party must be invited too. The Greens were the chaff he was throwing up to disguise his real intention, which is to make sure the debates never happen, because he has nothing to gain from them.
The broadcasters tried calling Cameron’s bluff. They agreed to include the Greens and anticipated his next objection by inviting the SNP and Plaid Cymru, though neither party has ever pitched for votes in England, where 84 per cent of the UK’s voters reside.
But when one excuse fails, there is always another. The latest spin coming out of Downing Street is that the new proposal is unfair on the political parties of Northern Ireland, home to 2.6 per cent of the UK electorate.
And if the broadcasters say they will invite the UUP, DUP, Sinn Fein and all the rest, you can be sure that David Cameron will be worried about whether this is fair on George Galloway’s Respect Party, or Mebyon Kernow, or the Monster Raving Loony Party, or the Bog Off I’m Not Taking Part Whatever Party.
A cut above the rest
As our sister paper The Independent on Sunday celebrates the 25th anniversary of its launch, my colleague Christopher Maume shares a vivid recollection of the day it first appeared, on 28 January 1990.
“I was doing the [football] results spread, and after the first edition there was a bit of a party,” he says. “When the first edition arrived in the office, each section was separate, and people were gathering up the various sections to take home.
“I happened to be in a group with Germaine Greer, who was looking for the various bits of the paper. I told her to make sure she got a sports section, or otherwise she’d be denied the pleasure of perusing my footy results. ‘That would be a tragedy, my foreskinned friend,’ she replied.”
That was like Tony Blair claiming there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: she could not possibly have known.
It’s all Greek to me
Listening to the BBC World Service’s Weekend Break programme discussing the crisis in Greece, you could almost hear the gulp of astonishment from the Greek-born economist, Vicky Pryce, at the first question she was asked. The presenter Paul Henley asked: “I wonder if you have seen relationships tested to the limit in the crisis – possibly in your family?”
Vicky Pryce’s family was in the news quite a lot between 2011 and 2013.
Too busy for revolution
As the ancient Greeks turned to the oracle of Delphi, so we now seek wisdom from anyone who can tell jokes, sing, rap or play a guitar. CND’s latest recruit to the cause of abolishing nuclear weapons is the rapper Potent Whisper, who has recorded a spoken-word track that puts the case against Trident.
Abolishing Trident is one among many causes championed by Russell Brand, whose political broadcasts attract up to half a million views on YouTube. John Woodcock, the Labour MP whose Cumbrian seat includes the Barrow yard where Trident submarines are made, has posted a reply to Russell Brand which, when I last checked, had been viewed 146 times.
Meanwhile, Brand has been trying to get his mate Noel Gallagher to join him. But Gallagher does not share his friend’s priorities. “I keep telling him, ‘Russ – if I gave you my two lads to look after for a week, you wouldn’t be talking about a revolution,” he tells Q magazine. “He’s a top man, and his heart’s in the right place, but he’s got too much time on his hands.”