Andy McSmith's Diary: PM’s slip of the tongue was more like Putin his foot in it


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Indy Politics

David Cameron made an unfortunate slip of the tongue at Prime Minister’s Questions when he referred to “the Russian regime” – at a time when he is striving to improve relations with Vladimir Putin, whom he will meet in Belfast at the weekend, in the honourable hope that he can be persuaded to stop arming the Syrian regime. When he met Putin in Sochi last month, he did not so much as mention Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered on British soil.

Another Russian sensitivity is over the horror inflicted on Ukraine’s rural population 80 years ago, known as Holodomor, when an average of 25,000 people a day starved to death because of a policy enforced by Stalin to abolish private farming.

The Ukrainian government is lobbying the United Nations to classify Holodomor as an act of genocide, directed from Moscow. When the Tory MP, Pauline Latham, raised this in the Commons, the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, replied: “Genocide has a defined status in international law, following the 1948 UN genocide convention. Holodomor predates the establishment of the concept of genocide in international law….”

So, it cannot have been genocide, because it happened before the Holocaust. Putin will think that an acceptable reply.

Speaker gets T-shirty with Caroline’s attire

Caroline Lucas stood up in the Westminster Hall debating chamber in Parliament to condemn The Sun for running pictures of topless teenage women on Page 3, only to be told off for being improperly dressed. As she started speaking, she removed her smart jacket to reveal a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘No More Page Three’. The Labour MP Jimmy Hood, chairing the session, told her that was against the rules. Lucas was also wearing the T-shirt during Prime Minister’s Questions when she tried to get called to ask a question but the Speaker, John Bercow, resolutely refused to look in her direction.

Mr Bercow and his wife, Sally, have their own reason to be furious with The Sun, for running a ‘Silly Sally Exclusive’ about the Speaker’s wife selling furniture on eBay. The Speaker gets a nice house overlooking the Thames stuffed with antique furniture as a perk of his job. The report implied that Mrs Bercow was flogging antiques that belonged to the nation. “The items sold by Mr and Mrs Bercow were their own belongings, not House property, and it is deliberately misleading to imply otherwise. We were not asked about the ownership of these items prior to the publication,” a spokesman said. But why does Mrs Bercow need money so badly that she is having to flog her furniture?

Free coffee for police sounds like a fair cop

“Hello, hello, hello, what’s a-going on here?” the Metropolitan Police Resources Board asked, and rightly so. Police cutbacks have meant fewer squad cars on patrol, which means less petrol going into squad car tanks, leading to diminished profits for London’s petrol stations, leading to intensified competition, because of which – it is rumoured – BP has been luring London’s finest to its pumps with free cups of coffee. The Board has launched a review.

“We have been made aware that some officers may have been offered free drinks and we are looking into this,” the Met press office said.

“Stores work closely with their community police officers on a variety of issues, which can involve time spent in the store for meetings, and from time to time they are given refreshments,” says BP.