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  • Future historians will look back on last week as the moment Boris Johnson’s prime ministerial ambitions finally washed away into the muddy waters of the Thames.

    His full-body soaking at the hands of the home secretary in the House of Commons was so brutal it was almost difficult to watch. Theresa May’s demolition of Johnson’s case for bringing water cannon to the streets of London was so comprehensive, so cutting and so utterly devastating for the London mayor, you half expected the Metropolitan police to apprehend her for common assault.

    With an increasingly meek looking Johnson sat behind her, May explained that the 25-year-old second hand German water cannon Johnson bought without her permission, would “pose a series of direct and indirect medical risks,” to protesters, including “musculoskeletal injuries such as spinal fracture, as well as other serious injuries such as concussion, eye injury and blunt trauma”. One 66-year old German protester had been completely blinded by similar

    Read More »from Boris Johnson's water cannon farce reveals why he will never be prime minister
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    The hacking of the Ashley Madison adultery website – with the threat of 37million married love rats being exposed – is a cautionary tale in so many respects.

    Firstly, its cheating subscribers - said to include an almost implausibly staggering 1.2million Britons – should have known better than to plan affairs, especially online.

    Secondly, the website – without wishing to sound too much like a Mary Whitehouse-style probity crusader – should have known that cashing in on sleaze and families’ misery could massively backfire in a world full of expert web vandals.

    But the really interesting part of this story is the suggestion that the hackers, who have demanded Ashley Madison is shut down or else they will release all the data, were also motivated by profit – rather than the moral highground.

    An insider told Sky News that The Impact Team, who claim to be behind the hack, has no intention of exposing users - but instead wants the publicity in order to sell their credit card details on to

    Read More »from Ashley Madison hacking: Cashing in on sleaze is not quite what Mrs T had in mind with her ‘entrepreneurial revolution’
  • It’s quite revealing to compare the rhetoric from the Ministry of Justice about the legal strike with the way it is discussed behind closed doors.

    Publicly, the department is keeping a brave face and insisting it’s business as usual. Here’s the statement they sent me yesterday for instance:

    “All our intelligence shows that courts continue to sit as usual and that the vast majority of cases requiring a solicitor at the police station have been picked up within an hour.”

    But behind the scenes, things are much more frantic. Take the police, for example.  For obvious reasons, they’re one of the first groups to come into contact with the chaos reaped by a legal strike, so they function as a reliable litmus test of state nervousness about the action. And they seem worried. The Police Federation are firing off frenzied emails to solicitors demanding to know if their members are going to be able to rely on them if they face legal problems.

    “We are aware that as of the 1st July 2015 direct action

    Read More »from MoJ tries to keep a brave face amid signs of legal strike panic
  • By Jonathan Bartley

    Not long ago I returned to my home late at night to find my pregnant wife distressed and frightened. It wasn’t because a crime had been committed but because our house had been raided by police. It was a mistake and as anyone would do I made a complaint.  But what the officer who dealt with it told me was alarming.  The police found that every time contact was made with ordinary Londoners, even to help victims, the public’s view of the police went down.

    This decline in trust has been one of the defining aspects of Boris Johnson’s time as mayor. This week’s decision by Theresa May to block his use of a water cannon – a decision I predicted on this website a few years back - typified his approach. As the home secretary said, the idea of the water cannon undermined the idea of policing by consent.

    Boris bought weapons to use against his fellow Londoners. And not just water cannons.  He was responsible for the huge expansion of Tasers too.

    He undermined confidence by

    Read More »from Boris has presided over a catastrophic loss of trust in the police
  • By Syed Kamall

    I was disappointed when Sir Howard Davies recommended in his much anticipated Davies report, that the solution to London’s increasing need for air transport is to build a third runway at Heathrow. This is, in my view, a sticking plaster solution for the short term.

    According to figures published last month in the Global Destination Cities Index, London is once again the number one city to visit in the world. The report claims something like 18.82 million international visitors will visit London during 2015, which puts us ahead of Paris, Singapore and even Dubai.

    The question is, do we have the aviation capacity to maintain this increase in tourism as well as cater for business travel as entrepreneurs increase their trade with existing and emerging global markets?

    Perhaps, we have lessons to learn from the rest of the world. China is leading the way in the construction of airports having spent $3.5 Billion, less than a decade ago on what was at the time the largest passenger

    Read More »from Heathrow expansion is just a sticking plaster solution
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    He was ruled out as a 66-year-old maverick, a political dinosaur who was expected to come a distant fourth.

    Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn began the Labour leadership contest with bookmakers giving him odds of 100/1 to be victorious.

    But just four weeks after his nomination – in which some MPs “lent” support only to spur debate – the veteran left-winger is now 5/1 to win and two shock polls yesterday indicated that he will come first.

    Will the Islington North MP, who is so committed to socialism that he reportedly attended a political meeting the day after his mother died, actually secure the leadership though?

    Probably not. Some of his opponents would surely prefer to drop out of the race than allow it - and Labour’s new one-member-one-vote system is likely to factor in members, affiliates and registered supporters’ second, third and even fourth preferences into the total figure if the winning candidate cannot pass a 50% threshold.

    Yet what Corbyn’s surge does demonstrate is that the party’s

    Read More »from Jez we can? Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership surge represents popular frustration with ‘no alternative’ politics
  • Everyone enjoys a laugh at homeopathy supporters. It brings us all together. It’s a way for smug, intellectual people to be all smug and intellectual. So there was barely-concealed glee this morning when an old tweet revealed Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn believed in it, or rather that he did five years ago.

    Corbyn is considered a looney because he has actual political values which he refuses to compromise on, so this was opportunity to seal the deal. It’s dispiriting to watch a man who espouses genuine convictions using normal language treated as some sort of museum piece, but that’s where we are. One instinctively wants to jump to his aid, especially on something as minor and silly as homeopathy.

    But belief in homeopathy serves a higher function than just screening out the gullible or providing a group hug for intellectuals. No matter how trivial it might seem, homeopathy provides a moral test because it functions as a litmus test for belief in objective truth.

    There’s no

    Read More »from Belief in homeopathy is a moral test
  • By Caroline Lucas

    Later today I will be presenting a bill to the House of Commons which aims to give PSHE (personal, social and health education) statutory status. With the current guidelines now 15 years old it’s time for us to take a step forward and give every child access to a curriculum which promotes resilience, physical and mental health and life skills.  This is an important time to put pressure on ministers, as we await Nicky Morgan’s delayed response to the education select committee’s call for statutory PSHE.

    There’s no doubt that PSHE is needed. One in three girls say they experience ‘groping’ or unwanted sexual touching at school and a shocking 60% of 13-18 year olds have been asked to share a sexual image or video of themselves.  When children are constantly bombarded with confusing messages about sex and relationships, and with young people in this country among the least satisfied with their lives and their bodies, it’s clear that the time has come to end the postcode

    Read More »from Young people need sex education to protect them from abuse
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    David Cameron’s bid to close the gender pay gap – in which women make 80p for every £1 earned by a man – is a laudable aim.

    Yet, he’s going about it in the wrong way – and, possibly, for a less than admirable reason.

    But, before I reveal where he is going wrong, I would like to rebuff a couple of popular arguments that falsely claim the wage discrepancy is actually women’s fault.

    First of all, it is often said that women are paid less because they choose to have children.

    Here, it is worth pointing out that females didn’t choose to become the sole gender capable of giving birth – and, unless they are a whiptail lizard, there is always a male involved.

    The second common argument for why women earn less is that they choose to enter lower paid professions.

    Yet the truth here is that they often, due to institutional sexism, find it much harder to land the same jobs as men in the first place.

    Indeed, an American study found that with identical CVs – but with one for “John” and the other for

    Read More »from Fix the gender pay gap… but how about starting with Whitehall and not just 0.1% of firms
  • Andrew Neil had a hard time yesterday persuading Harriet Harman to oppose any of the harsh austerity measures in George Osborne’s budget.

    The Labour leader insisted she would support almost all of the new welfare cuts proposed by the chancellor.

    “We won’t oppose the welfare bill, we won’t oppose the benefit cap, [we won’t oppose] restricting benefits and tax credits to people with three or more children,” she insisted.

    She added that “people don’t want us to do blanket opposition. They want us to be specific.”

    Pushed on what if any, specific measures Labour would oppose, Harman explained that they opposed some changes to tax credits as well as the “abolition of child poverty targets”.

    Now I’m sure that anti-poverty campaigners will welcome this. But the measures which Harman is supporting will actually increase child poverty.

    As the government’s own internal advice warned earlier this year, the benefit cap is set to force tens of thousands more children into poverty. Labour now support this

    Read More »from Labour opposes child poverty but supports measures which will increase it

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