Something for the Weekend: A day in the life

Afternoon. Welcome to this week’s collection of odds and sods from the twin worlds of Politics and Not-Politics. Just step this way…

If you see Doug, tell him

Labour MP Doug Henderson wants your views – if you’re one of his constituents in Newcastle North.

Doug Henderson MP - Tell Doug !

His household survey is a mix of leading questions (“Should tougher penalties be imposed on those who deal in drugs, blighting our communities and inflicting misery on individuals?”) and absent proofreading (I know, I can talk).

The pièce de resistance, though, is question 6, which I present for your delectation:

Voting intention question

Meanwhile, in Tyne Bridge…

Doug’s local Labour colleague David Clelland, the MP for Tyne Bridge, also takes an unorthodox approach to dealing with his constituents’ voting intentions.

In a textbook example of the drawbacks of the safe seats producted by the first-past-the-post electoral system, 23-year MP Mr Clelland responded to criticism from a constituent thus:

I accept your offer not to vote for me again […] I do not want your vote so you can stick [it] wherever best pleases you.

The constituent in question, IT salesman Gary Scott (who was around four years old when David Clelland became an MP), had written a letter to Mr Clelland complaining that he was supporting an out-of-touch and authoritarian government.

You can read the full exchange on Paul Walter’s blog.

Book him, Dannie

Wales’s culture minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas took a leaf out of Terry Wogan’s book this week when he announced the wrong winner of the Wales Book of the Year award – before announcing the correct winner, 84-year-old writer and poet Dannie Abse, for his memoir The Presence.

Another gong for Vince

While we’re on the subject of awards, congratulations to our Shadow Chancellor and Deputy Leader Vince Cable who was recognised again this week for his sterling work. He was named Politician of the Year on Thursday at the Public Affairs News Awards.

As the citation says:

Vince has firmly established himself as a credible and authoritative voice on all Treasury-related issues. He deftly used his temporary leadership of the Liberal Democrats and his subsequently increased profile to hold the government to account over the Northern Rock crisis, and was the first to champion nationalization of the bank when even the Treasury refused to countenance such a move.


It’s official: Pringles aren’t crisps

Not for the first time, this column finds itself on the subject of Pringles, the tube-based potato snack. But they’re not crisps, according to the High Court.

In a ruling that echoes Marks & Spencer’s 12-year battle with Revenue & Customs over the VAT status of chocolate-covered teacakes, the court said Pringles can be sold tax-free because they do not contain enough potato.

I could speculate on why the tax system prefers snacks with less potato in, but let’s not open that tube of worms. Once you pop… (Sorry.)

Restaurant of the week

The menu for Willesden’s premier Bulgarian takeaway restaurant has photos of the meals rather than descriptions. And it’s called Crazy Cock.

Yes, this item was childish. Sorry again.

Focus on John Pugh

A reader has been in touch to draw our collective attentions to this particular testosterone-laden 2006 press release from Southport MP John Pugh:


John Pugh is promising guerilla war until the option floated by management consultants of moving A&E out of Southport is taken off the table and put out with the trash.
“I will be knocking on every door I need to and already have achieved a high degree of co-operation”.

Our correspondent adds: “Looking through his website today I am rather taken by the inappropriately named Pugh Tube.”

(You can contribute by emailing us at [email protected])

How do you confuse an idiot?

Find out here.

Beam me up, Huhne

Old domain names don’t die, they just get new owners. Readers wanting to track down some Star Trek memorabilia on eBay (and even I pity you) can, as a result, do so at – previously home of two party leadership campaigns.

Headline of the week

Bush Stimulates The Porn Industry With His Economic Package:

When President Bush announced his economic stimulus in January, he bragged that his package was the “right size” and would “boost” the economy. […] It sure has led to “higher consumer spending,” but not where Bush had probably hoped. The adult pornography industry reports that has seen a huge uptick in business thanks to Bush’s package.


Westminster Abbey Road

As part of Liverpool’s Beatles Day celebration, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, David “Dave” Cameron and Nick Clegg were asked to reveal their favourite Beatles songs.

Gordon picked All My Loving, Darling opted for Strawberry Fields, and Dave chose The Long and Winding Road.

Nick’s favourite is A Day in the Life: “Even after all this time, it still sounds innovative and radical.”

Website of the week

Have you recently visited a friend of family member in prison? Then don’t forget to Rate Your Prison.

When search and replace goes wrong

There is, apparently, a tendency for right-wing websites in the United States to use automated word replacement to ensure that their preferred use of language holds sway. The Carpetbagger Report explains:

Some far-right sites that subscribe to the Associated Press feed, for example, will use auto-correct to change “Democratic Party” to “Democrat Party.” This, of course, is because they have the temperament of children.

But the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.

This backfired gloriously when the website carried a report about an American 100m sprinter by the name of Tyson Gay, resulting in the headline “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.”

There’s a screengrab and more at Right Wing Watch.

Facebook groups of the week

Campaigns & Elections magazine and Ian Robertson for Glasgow East are both fairly self-explanatory.

Long-time readers of my blog (and others too) will recall the Jerry Springer: The Opera controversy back in 2005. After the show was aired on BBC Two (although not in reaction to its previous, lengthy West End run), the odious Stephen Green of the so-called Christian Voice group tried to launch a private prosecution against the BBC’s Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday of production company Avalon.

Mr Green failed, but while apparently all for the idea of court-determined justice when he thought he had a chance of victory, now that costs have been awarded against him and he faces bankruptcy, he’s changed his tune.

He’s launched a petition calling for the costs to be waived by Mr Thompson and Mr Thoday. (Mr Thoday, incidentally, lost £500,000 when Christian Voice sabotaged a nationwide tour of the show. Mr Green thinks this is a reason why he shouldn’t have to pay.)

All of this is by way of promotion of a counter-petition demanding that Mr Green pay up – and here, therefore, is the Facebook group Petition to make Stephen Green pay Springer costs.

And finally


* Something for next weekend? Email us at [email protected]

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  • Speaking of Labour “foot in mouth” leaflets ….

    in the run up to the May Unitary Council elections the Labour Party in Crewe were delivering a shiny (national) leaflet announcing:
    “next year smoking in public places will be prohibited”

    Funny, some of us thought it happened LAST year. Our conclusion was either:

    a) the local Labour Party had found them in the back of a cupboard and hadn’t noticed they were circa 2006 issue;

    b) they were on special offer at 50p per 1,000 [because they were c.2006] and were all the local party could afford.

    Could help to explain their dismal performance on 1st May (new authority has just 6 Labour councillors) and subsequently on 22nd May . . .

  • 23-year-old MP David Clelland? Do you mean, perhaps, 65-year-old MP David Clelland?


  • Just re-read it…. makes a lot more sense when I realise you’re talking about years in parliament, not years alive. Jolly good, carry on.

  • Have just read the Clelland correspondence. I think his reply is entirely reasonable given the content and tone of the letter he received. It’s typical of the national media to seize on one of his comments, repeat it out of context and distort the true picture.

    His comment about sticking the vote wherever he likes echoes most appositely the original writer’s near closing comment that Clelland could “kiss his vote goodbye”. I think Clelland should be lauded for his honesty rather than vilified for what at worst was a lack of tact and a hint of irritability.

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