Labour's John Mann sure knows how to kick a man when he's down. Just ask (Labour's) Ed Balls

Our Monday diarist on Labour rentaquotes, Boris's sister, and Romney on the ropes

Share

Now more than ever in this season of goodwill, one hates to begin on a sour note. Yet I am rendered apoplectic by the Labour rentaquote John Mann, who interprets Ed Balls’s Autumn Statement meltdown as death to his leadership hopes.

One had assumed that persecuting the disabled was the Government’s preserve, but apparently not. Mr Balls held his stammer solely responsible for the catastrophe, as you know, and this we must take this on trust – for there is no fiercer foe of phoney excuses than Mr Balls. He lashed the “excuses culture in British schools” in 2009, demanded “action, not excuses” from the Government a year ago, and only in September said of the Coalition’s economic policy that “the time for excuses is over”.

Whether the victim of a disabling condition he self-admittedly cannot control under pressure is suited to such a stressful post is another matter. Even its advocates accept that positive discrimination has limits: even the mischievous Michael O’Leary would not hire a blind person as a Ryanair pilot. It is not this column’s way to kick a fellow when’s he down. If it were, I would remind Big Ed Miliband of the previous advice that the most crucial step to winning the election is replacing Mr Balls with Alastair Darling. But it isn’t. So I won’t.

Please put a sock in  it, Mr Paterson

The rentaquote role traditionally reserved for backbenchers like Mr Mann infiltrates the Cabinet. Barely a day now passes without the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, saying something daft. In the past week, he told TV cooks to offer recipes involving leftovers (a nice look-after-the-little-folk touch from the owner of his own shoot); virtually demanded secession from the EU (part of his ongoing scrap with Liam Fox for leadership of the Euronutter right) and responded to Alan Titchmarsh’s criticism of the Government’s countryside policy by calling the novelist-gardener “a complete muppet”.

I yield to nobody in appreciating how garrulous buffoons add to the gaiety. Yet the latter was clearly a coded dig at Danny Alexander, whose resemblance to the accident-prone Beaker from The Muppets is a matter of public record, and such disloyalty is unacceptable. From Mr Paterson, a period of silence would be most welcome.

Big-mouthed Brucie treads on a few toes

Into the rumbling row about sexist ageism on TV shuffles Sir Bruce Forsyth. “For them, it’s been very, very bad,” he tells The Daily Mail of middle-aged female presenters. “I’m all for older women as long as they really don’t look that bad. I mean, women can still be attractive from 50 to 70. If they’ve got a nice bone structure and can talk pleasantly, it’s fine.” Always a delight is Brucie.

No love lost between Cable and Osborne

Might Vince Cable, who says he is close to earning a diploma to teach ballroom, be free to join Sir Bruce for next year’s Strictly? If his contempt for the Chancellor grows by an iota, he will. Vince’s dismissal of Little Osborne as a Bullingdon Mitt Romney for painting everyone on benefits as a feckless wastrel was a joy. But how much longer can he treat Obsorne with Blackadder’s lip-curling disdain for the imbecile Prince Regent and remain his Cabinet colleague?

BoJo’s sister and her raisin d’être

The London mayor Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel Johnson, illuminates her inaugural Mail On Sunday column with glad tidings. She has finally found a raisin-free muesli after “years picking them out of cereal and giving them to the dog”. Please don’t try this at home. As the Telegraph reported on Saturday, and as some dog owners already knew, raisins are toxic to canine kidneys and potentially fatal. The Mail’s corrections column might clarify this before the paper suffers its gravest medical embarrassment since Mad Mel Phillips helped to revive measles by proselytising the imaginary link between the triple vaccine and autism?

Las Vegas visit leaves Romney on the ropes

The forgotten man of US politics retains that Midas touch. On Saturday, Mittens nipped into Manny Pacquiao’s Las Vegas dressing room to wish him luck in his fight. “Hello, I’m Mitt Romney,” he said. “I ran for President. I lost.” So did the Filipino legend, knocked out cold by Juan Mauel Marques in the sixth.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?