Andy McSmith's Diary: House not in order


Andy McSmith@andymcsmith
Monday 12 January 2015 21:02

One of the country’s longest serving council leaders, Keith House, a Lib Dem who has led Eastleigh council since 1994, has been through some upheaval in his private life.

He reportedly split with his partner of 14 years on election night last May and took up with a younger woman. Both women are Eastleigh councillors, which must complicate relations inside the council’s Lib Dem group. None of this might matter except it has driven House to issue an extraordinary threat to his local paper, the Daily Echo.

He sent an email warning that “if I receive any further emails about my private life, or that of my colleagues, I will permanently block your email address and delete any phone messages on any issues unheard”. How Eastleigh’s citizens are ever to be informed of what their council is doing if the council leader has blanked out the main outlet for local news escapes me.

It’s all Greek to me

We live in a curious age. Mary Beard is both a renowned classics scholar and a person with no obvious malice toward anyone, even the trolls who have written vile stuff about her in the past.

Yesterday she corrected an error by the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, originally highlighted on the @Heresy_Corner Twitter feed.

Mr Javid had claimed in an article in The Times that the writings of Socrates “continue to be some of the most widely read and influential in the world” – when, as Professor Beard pointed out, “Socrates didn’t write anything (that’s the point of Plato)”.

She was instantly attacked on Twitter for her “sneering snobbery”.

Someone who knows what she is talking about gently corrects false information put out by someone who ought to know – that is snobbery?

From Shakespeare to Sheeran, Gove runs the gamut

When Michael Gove was Education Secretary, he insisted that the syllabus for GCSE English literature must include at least one Shakespeare play and one 19th-century novel, which is why the 17-year-old living on your road is now reading Villette, by Charlotte Brontë, rather than some modern American classic.

But Gove evidently does not turn his nose up at modern low-brow culture when there is a freebie on offer. He has declared in the Register of Members’ Interest that he accepted five free tickets, worth £1,250 in all, to Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball last month. The show’s stars – Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran – would be more likely to appeal to Gove’s children than a man of his age. That may explain why he needed five tickets.

World’s worst talking head

Who is this Steven Emerson, who first tells Fox News that Birmingham is “totally Muslim”, then retracts and says it is “beautiful” – thus proving twice over that he has never set foot in the city?

I see that in 1995, he declared that the Oklahoma bombing was the work of Arab terrorists. Actually, the culprit was a white supremacist. In 1998, he announced that Pakistan was planning a nuclear strike against India. Hasn’t happened yet. In April 2013, he claimed to have inside knowledge that the bombing of the Boston Marathon had been carried out by a Saudi, who was about to be deported. Actually, the bombers were Chechen. Obviously the go-to guy for ill-informed comment.

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