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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: In favour of a referendum? Yes and no, says Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg has condemned the Tories' "endless navel gazing" over Europe, the latest outcome of which was today's draft referendum Bill, which the Liberal Democrats regard as a vast distraction from the issues that actually matter. But Mr Clegg was not always so sniffy. In 2008, his picture adorned a Liberal Democrat leaflet headed "It's time for a Real Referendum on Europe", which invited signatures to a petition calling on the government to "give the British people a real choice".

This was at a time when the Conservatives were promising a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, an idea supported by some members of Mr Clegg's front bench. It never happened because the treaty had been signed before the Tories came to office in 2010, and they reckoned that it was too late.

Mr Clegg argued then that it was pointless having a referendum about a treaty; better to have one on the fundamental issue of whether to stay in or leave the EU.

It's not altogether clear why he now opposes the thing he was demanding five years ago. Something to do with timing.

A dairy event for your diary

So much is happening in the world that it is hard to keep track. That is the only excuse I have for completely missing the fact that the First Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yoghurt was held in Boston on 24 April. I look forward to the second.

The brief life of Colin, Sky's disaster man

The star of the Twittersphere for a short interlude today was Colin. Colin who? Nobody knows. Just Colin. He shot to fame when Sky News messaged the 902,000 followers of its Twitter feed to say simply: "Colin was here." This provoked a flurry of messages asking about Colin, or claiming that he was somewhere else. One Twitter message alleged that Nigel Farage was claiming that Colin wanted the UK to leave the EU. But the life of Colin was all too brief. The tweet was deleted, and Sky's press office explained that Colin was "a 'disaster recovery' test message which accidentally went live", adding that "no Colin was harmed in the making of this message".

It's official: Ukip members are fools, not politicians

Ukip appears to have lost one of the newly-gained council seats already. Eric Kitson, elected this month to Worcestershire County Council, has told the Express & Star newspaper that he is "99 per cent sure" of his intention to resign over some offensive messages he forwarded on Facebook, including one showing Muslims being burned at the stake. He also posted a suggestion that Ukip should work with other parties, including the BNP. "I'm not a politician – I'm a bit of a fool really," he averred.

Life in the spotlight is not always flattering

The coverage of the Bafta awards on The Independent's website included an appealing picture of Zoe Hardman suffering a momentary hitch as she trod the red carpet. Well, some would think it appealing, but that is not the view taken by Beth Morris, director of the star's PR agency, Ardent, who emailed to ask "whether it would be possible to switch out the photo that has been used for Zoe Hardman… to one that is more flattering?"

Of course it is possible, Beth, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen.