Village People: 12/06/2010

WHSmith shows red card to Rooney book

Though it will be all eyes on Wayne Rooney tonight, WHSmith seems to think that people are not interested enough in the England squad's star striker to buy a book about his rather extraordinary life.

They have declined to stock Rooney's Gold by the BBC journalist John Sweeney, published this month by Biteback.

They say it is a commerical decision, not at all influenced by a chilling letter sent to booksellers by the libel lawyers, Schillings, warning that if the book was found to contain anything libellous, any establishment selling it could be on the receiving end of a writ.

Biteback, owned by the blogger Iain Dale, managed to get the book onto the shelves of Waterstones by offering to indemnify them if they were sued. They made the same offer to WHSmith, who spurned it.

"It's a very serious blow that WHSmith are using their near monopoly position to suppress a book about a serious issue," Mr Sweeney said.

A glowing (with ire) tribute

The tradition that requires a new MP to pay tribute to his predecessor was tested almost to destruction this week when Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne, made his maiden speech. He took the seat from the Conservative Nigel Waterson after an ill-tempered campaign during which one Tory activist resigned – accusing Waterson of negative campaigning – and Waterson threatened legal proceedings against Lloyd and his agent for "lies" allegedly printed in Liberal Democrat leaflets.

"I am aware that the tradition in the House is to speak only good of our predecessor," said Mr Lloyd. "However there was not a great deal of love lost between Mr Waterson and myself."

He also regaled MPs with a long anecdote about problems on the night of the count, and talked for so long that the deputy speaker eventually cut him short. There have been better ways of launching a Commons career.

Given their cards

Sixty-seven people in Durham who were working on the introduction of ID cards are now unemployed because the incoming government scrapped the scheme. You and I might say that they have "lost their jobs". Indeed, that was the very phrase their local MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods, used in the Commons, only to have the Home Secretary Theresa May inform her that her "terminology" needed correcting. "You referred to job losses in Durham," said Mrs May. "The people concerned were temporary staff and they have been released early."

So, if you are working for the Government on a contract, do not fear that you might be put out of work as the cuts begin to bite. Just sing that old Bob Dylan song: "Any day now, any day now, I shall be released."