Andy McSmith's Diary: In politician-speak, we’re
essentially going to win the Ashes


Iain Duncan Smith has described his plan to introduce Universal Credit as “essentially on time” – an expression you might find useful the next time you are embarrassingly late without a plausible excuse.

The idea that “essentially” is the new euphemism for “not” did not much impress Labour’s shadow Leader of the House, Angela Eagle. “On that definition, living standards are ‘essentially’ soaring, the badger cull is ‘essentially’ a success and England is ‘essentially’ winning the Ashes,” she said.

The mere suggestion that the England cricket team is not marching to victory in Australia outraged the Tory MP Peter Bone, who accused Ms Eagle of “talking this country down”. “It is outrageous to suggest that we will not win the Ashes,” he exclaimed. The Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, agreed that to make a joke at the expense of the England team was “in very poor taste”.

Of course, when England won the opening match of the Ashes series in July, and David Cameron mocked Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by tweeting “A brilliant match and a brilliant win, don’t you think @KRuddMP?”, that was not “in very poor taste”. You can joke when England win, but not when England lose. Or did I mean “essentially”?

Morally, we’ll take the cash

As the row over the MPs’ proposed 11 per cent pay rise rumbles on, I dare any MP to echo the robust words of Jane Scott, the leader of Wiltshire Council, whose annual allowance has jumped from £37,335 to £52,227. An independent panel noted that by axing several senior management jobs, including the chief executive’s, the council had created more work for councillors, all of whom should be paid more, they ruled. Councillor Scott has told Marlborough News Online that she has a “moral duty” to take the money, for the sake of future council leaders. “The independent panel made their recommendation and I think it’s only right... that we take that recommendation.”

In Rochdale, meanwhile, there was something of a popular uprising after it was announced that the chief executive, Jim Taylor, was to have his salary bumped up from £130,00 to £170,000. The council has now retreated. Mr Taylor will have to get by on a 1 per cent increase,

Less than global briefing

It is a requirement on former ministers who leave government and are thinking of taking up other paid employment that they run it past the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments to check for potential conflicts of interest. Since emerging from prison, Chris Huhne has followed this rule on each of his appointments, including his new role as a Guardian columnist. According to the record, “the Committee noted that Mr Huhne had had official dealings with The Guardian while in office, but that these had comprised of briefings, which had also been provided to all other major national newspapers”.

Oh, but were they? In October 2011, Chris Huhne tried to send a direct message by Twitter, but accidentally tweeted it to the world. He was inviting a journalist to write a story damaging to his fellow cabinet minister Theresa May. “I do not want my fingerprints on the story,” he warned. The intended recipient was Patrick Wintour, political editor of The Guardian. That was one briefing that was not “provided to all other major national newspapers”.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

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
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
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride