Daily catch-up: Ken Livingstone's finest moment – his response to the 7 July 2005 bombings

Plus energy prices, Harriet Harman and Sensible Labour, the end of the euro, and the missing dollar riddle

Click to follow
The Independent Online

1. Ken Livingstone was a more impressive mayor of London than his successor, and here is a small measure of it. His response to the 7 July 2005 bombings was his finest two minutes, rhetorically. Via Steve Bloomfield.

2. The Competition and Markets Authority reported this morning on the energy market. It has been reported that it found consumers have been overcharged by £1.7bn a year.

I suspect that this is nonsense. The Competition and Markets Authority news release says it found that “dual fuel customers could save an average of £160 a year by switching to a cheaper deal”. Presumably the £1.7bn figure has been reached by multiplying that figure up. But if everyone switched to the cheapest deal, the companies would have to put up their prices to avoid making a loss: the total notional saving is not a measure of excess profit.

3. My colleague Jane Merrick made an excellent point in The Independent on Sunday, which is that Harriet Harman has shown how effective a pragmatic Labour opposition, one that actually decides its position quickly, can be. Daniel Hodges makes a similar argument today. Chris Leslie, the interim shadow chancellor, has also been unshowily effective. There is a lot to be said for Sensible Labour and the Harman-Leslie interim leadership.

4. My other colleague Steve Richards is surprisingly apocalyptic, but right, I think, about the Greek crisis in today’s Independent: “In staging a referendum, Tsipras has generated a sense of empowerment that he cannot meet... The overwhelming No vote in the Greek referendum marks the beginning of the end of the euro.”

5. I hadn’t heard of the missing dollar riddle before. Thanks to Sarah for telling me about it. It took me an embarrassingly long time to explain it.

“Three people check into a hotel room. The clerk says the bill is $30, so each guest pays $10. Later the clerk realizes the bill should only be $25. To rectify this, he gives the bellhop $5 to return to the guests. On the way to the room, the bellhop realises that he cannot divide the money equally. As the guests didn’t know the total of the revised bill, the bellhop decides to just give each guest $1 and keep $2 as a tip for himself. Each guest got $1 back: so now each guest only paid $9; bringing the total paid to $27. The bellhop has $2. And $27 + $2 = $29 so, if the guests originally handed over $30, what happened to the remaining $1?”

Explanation here

6. And finally, thanks to Moose Allain for this:

“What sort of knickers does Dracula wear?”