Andy McSmith's Diary: I admit I made mistakes over Militant, says Jack Straw

 

Half a dozen former members of the Blackburn constituency Labour Party, who had the unwanted distinction more than 30 years ago of being the first party members expelled for belonging to the secretive Trotskyite organisation, Militant, have extracted an apology from the town’s long-serving MP, Jack Straw. Not over their expulsion: the former Foreign Secretary has no qualms about that, but in his memoir Last Man Standing, published last year, Mr Straw added a claim that the six were siphoning party funds to give to striking miners. He has now admitted, in a letter to the Lancashire Telegraph, that it cannot be true. These events happened so long ago that they predated the 1984 miners’ strike.

Taliban take it easy, making babies in Doha

It is disturbing that peace talks in Afghanistan have been stalled because President Hamid Karzai has raised objections over the opening of a Taliban “embassy” in Qatar. To be precise, it was not the fact that a Taliban delegation had set up shop in Doha that raised hackles in Kabul: it was television images of the Taliban flag flying above the building, and a banner proclaiming the “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.

Afghan officials were expecting the Taliban negotiators to have a neutral address in Qatar from which to conduct talks, and nothing more. Their presence in Doha is nothing new, according to a report in the weekly French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur a month ago. It claimed that they were dropped off there by the Americans in 2010 and had been killing time ever since.

An Afghan diplomat was quoted as saying: “They have spent their time enjoying the air conditioning, driving around in luxury cars and making babies with their wives. It seems the only time they surface is when they have to go to the Afghan embassy to register their kids’ births.”

Baldry waxes lyrical on internships

“One needs walk-on parts to swell a progress, start a scene or two, to be deferential, or glad to be of use,” the Tory MP, Sir Tony Baldry, suggested as MPs discussed internships and low pay in the entertainment industry. The Speaker, John Bercow, thought this an odd thing to say, and asked if Sir Tony was being “autobiographical”. Actually, he was lifting phrases from T S Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, to make the point that that not everyone can play Hamlet. If he had wanted to talk about himself, he could have cited the lines that come afterwards – “Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; at times, indeed, almost ridiculous”.

Why size matters when it comes to statutes

The Tory peer Lord Bates of Langbaurgh has been lamenting to fellow members of the House of Lords that Britons are governed by too many laws. All the statutes passed during the reigns of all the monarchs from King John to King George VI filled 26 volumes of that authoritative compendium, Halesbury’s Statutes. The laws passed during the current 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II fill 48 volumes.

Lord Bates said he was first delighted and then disillusioned as he examined evidence that this process may have been briefly reversed under Margaret Thatcher, who had vowed to roll back the frontiers of the state. “One gets a momentary frisson of Thatcherite zeal when one comes to 1986-87 and sees that the tide of legislation momentarily abates, before resuming its upward course,”  he said. “Then one looks at the footnotes and finds that it was in that year that the Queen’s printer moved from using the A5 page size to A4.”

So, Margaret Thatcher’s laws filled fewer pages because  her aides had doubled the page size.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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 General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game