Village People: 15/05/2010

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Indy Politics

Cash doesn't register

Joanne Cash, who has a fine reputation as a lawyer, chose to stop doing what she does well and devote herself to something she was really bad at when she became the Tory candidate in Westminster North.

With an election imminent, she resigned in a blaze of publicity, but unresigned after Cameron had intervened. She also offended local party members by putting "RIP dinosaurs" on her Twitter page. Then, despite two fundraising visits from Cameron in person, she achieved a swing of 0.5 per cent against Labour, almost the lowest anywhere in Britain, and lost. After the result, she appeared to blame the press. "Press, you are on notice of the truth as of now – no more lies!" she declared. Her Twitter page has been taken down. RIP one political career.

Sir Peter tops all

If you think this is the age of "new politics", you should watch the archaic ceremony that will mark the resumption of business in the House of Commons at 2.30 on Tuesday, all the doffing of caps as MPs gather in the House of Lords and are told to go away and elect a Speaker. Almost as ancient as this ritual is the dignitary who will be temporarily occupying the Speaker's chair. That honour goes to the longest-serving MP, or Father of the House, Sir Peter Tapsell. He has just been re-elected as MP for Louth at the age of 80, worked in 10 Downing Street when Anthony Eden was Prime Minister and was first elected to Parliament in 1959.

Taking the Eady option

As Ken Clarke settles into his new job as Justice Secretary, one of his tasks will be to address libel law, which all the main political parties agree needs reforming. He could take as his thought for the day a comment by Sir David Eady, the judge whom Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, once attacked as a menace to free speech.

This week, Justice Eady made a very unusual ruling in favour of a left-wing blogger, Dave Osler, who was being sued for libel by Johanna Kaschke, a Tory activist from Tower Hamlets.

Kaschke, who suffered wrongful arrest in Germany during the hysteria created by the Baader-Meinhof gang, claimed that Osler had implied she condoned terrorism. Not satisfied at being given right of reply, she wanted trial by jury. The case could have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds had the excellent Robert Dougans not stepped in to represent Osler free of charge, and persuaded Judge Eady to strike it off because the blog did not say what Kaschke had read into it.

Justice Eady, no great friend of journalists, was moved in this case to point out that "being sued at all is a serious interference with freedom of expression". Why then did it take two years and the intervention of a renowned advocate to establish that it was an expensive fuss about nothing?

Julie finds a reason for Ukip

Speaking of people who have made strange political journeys, the writer Julie Burchill, born-again ex-communist and ex-Trotskyist, offered this gem in her latest column for the Jewish Chronicle: "I voted for Ukip because I STILL haven't forgiven the Germans for what they did to your lot."