Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Cameron's new version of Tebbit's 'cricket test'

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone's noticed an extraordinarily ill-advised joke that David Cameron made during his speech yesterday at The Times CEO summit.

According to 10 Downing Street, he said:

I have to say, she is one of the politest people I have ever met; every time the German – or, as I kept pointing out to her, mostly Turkish and Polish – players managed to slip another one past our lads, she would turn to me and say, ‘I am really very sorry.’
Imagine the uproar that would have ensued had the German Chancellor 'joked' with David Cameron that England's players were actually Dominican or African?

The quote which gave rise to Tebbit's infamous 'cricket test' moniker is: "A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are [sic]?"

Many people thought this was a highly provocative and unreasonable thing to say.  But under Cameron's new "football test" it seems that even when players are legally a particular nationality and are so patriotic as to choose to play for their country's national football side, their nationality, and by extension, loyalty, can be impugned, even if in jest, by a foreign Prime Minister.  And no lesser Prime Minister than our new, sparkling, "progressive" kid on the block, David Cameron.

I don't doubt that David Cameron is opposed to racism nor do I doubt his integrity (although many from my party would).  However, he needs to watch what he says after future long-haul flights, and he needs to have words with the person who proof-read his speech for not pointing out that what he said will be offensive to many Britons, whatever their ethnic origin.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Telegraph columnist hits right note on dangers fabric of society of today's Budget

Read Mary Riddell's excellent column here.  It's good to see that The Daily Telegraph, not known for taking a left-of-centre stance on things, is willing to put forward the case that the Condems' Budget may well make ordinary people suffer too high a price.

Friday, 18 June 2010

My letter on private schools published in The Times

If you subscribe to The Times website you can see it here.

The Cost of Fees

Sir, The school that Vicky Tuck is leaving for being made to feel “slightly immoral” is one, like all fee-paying schools, that favours the life chances of its pupils over other children on the sole basis of their parents’ wealth (“Top school head quits ‘hostile’ Britain”, June 17).

Some people regard this as a human right, others as “slightly immoral”. You report that she feels “beaten up” by bureaucracy over visas, etc. I am sure teachers in inner-city comprehensives, drained as they are of more academic children often by the lure of private schools, find this comment hard to take seriously.

John Slinger

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Legrain reminds us of a cracking idea to take on the landlords and landowners - a land tax

Philippe Legrain writes an excellent column today in The Times calling for Churchill's long-forgotten proposal from a century ago for there to be a land tax.  This is the kind of radical thinking that the Labour Party ought to be engaged in.  Politicians of the left must rediscover ways in which to tackle vested interests and in so doing enhance the rights and quality of life of ordinary people.  A land tax ticks these boxes.  If you subscribe to The Times, you can read the article here.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Andy Burnham's lack of an entourage speaks of strength not weakness

SiƓn Simon (ex-MP and minister) writes a very funny piece today on Labour Uncut about Andy Burnham's lack of an entourage in the power-play that is the Labour leadership contest.

These are my immediate thoughts:

There's a serious point to it I think and that is that the most unassuming candidate (i.e. the one who doesn't barge around with a ridiculous entourage of self-important wannabes) is almost certainly the most genuine and less egotistical of them all.  I remember from when I worked in the Commons that about the only minister (let alone Cabinet minister) who didn't walk around with his own homies was Alan Johnson - routinely regarded as perhaps the most decent, friendly, straight-forward and genuine senior Labour politician (oh, and polls suggest most liked by the public - I wonder why?)  I used to see Alan Johnson chatting to the canteen staff as did we researchers.  I used to see him walking back to his department ON HIS OWN and walking around the House of Commons ON HIS OWN.

You have to ask the question: what kind of person feels the need for an entourage?  Do they have a narcissistic personality disorder?  Are they insecure?  Are they overly ambitious?  Are they obsessed with image?  Are they power hungry/mad?  Conversely, what does it say about a politician who eschews such an entourage?  I think it says they're definitely none of the above and for that, they're all the more likely to win my vote come polling.