1. Welcome back. A lot of stuff to catch up with while I’ve been off with my mince pies and American football. First, a corker of a QTWTAIN (Question To Which The Answer Is No), above.
I collected some of the best QTWTAIN of 2014 here, but this gets the new year off to a good start.
Martin Daubney asked a variant of it in The Daily Telegraph last week: “Will 2015 be the year of meninism?” Something to do with “objectifying men – real men have curves”. And things.
2. The most important article over the restive period (restive? I quite like that) was by Neal Lawson for Comment Is Free, the Guardian’s unreadable opinion website. It’s all right, you don’t have to read it, but some of the quotations from his “open letter to Tony Blair” are things of beauty and joy for ever.
• In 1997, “the wrong people were voting Labour”.
• “What meaningful project includes everyone?”
• “You were about one thing really, Tony – winning ... And therein lay your biggest problem: the limited scope of your ambitions. Not for you the challenge of reshaping the world.”
Lawson is a real person, who used to work for Gordon Brown, but his identity was stolen a while ago by Blair’s secret ops team and he now writes, under the codename Compass, brilliant parodies of the kind of thinking that the Labour Party left behind in 1994.
3. All this was set off by my excellent former colleague Anne McElvoy, who interviewed Blair for The Economist, published on 18 December. That got some attention for reporting Blair’s impatience with a question about Wendi Deng. McElvoy then wrote about it again for the Mail on Sunday on 21 December, and again for The Guardian on 31 December. Only this time she included a quotation from Blair saying that the election could be one “in which a traditional leftwing party competes with a traditional rightwing party, with the traditional result” (which wasn’t in The Economist, possibly because he had said it before, in a Progress magazine interview on 30 October), which she interpreted as meaning he didn’t think Ed Miliband would win.
4. I wrote about lies, lying and liars in The Independent on Sunday. Fat lot of good it will do. I also had a survey of election predictions from the bosses of the 10 polling companies: Labour the largest party in a hung parliament was the majority view. And my Top 10 in the New Review magazine was English Words Without a Rhyme, although Kevin Brennan has since pointed out that “bottom” rhymes with “got ’em”. Luckily I had a few in reserve.
5. Love this, from Stephen Bush. David Cameron, the after years:
6. And finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris for this:
“My mate just offered me a van-load of yo-yos super cheap for cash... No strings attached.”