Don't Panic
  • Politics is show business for ugly people. Career politicians would never have had the time to claw a space for themselves in the Westminster rat's nest if they'd ever been able to pull. The restless energy required to stay conscious during excruciatingly dull meetings is expended elsewhere by average humans when they were having relationships and living life. This is a problem for Labour as the two top boys have never had proper jobs and are, let's be honest, slightly minging.

    A poll for The Guardian back in October showed that Labour is a clear 11 points behind the Tories on the economy. The country's finances are going to hell in a handcart but the public still reckon David Cameron and George Osborne are doing a better job than the opposition could, the poll points out that: "…despite the increasing connection between coalition cutbacks and rising joblessness. The credibility gap is even greater than it was for Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling in 2009, when Mr Brown was deeply

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  • This week France was threatened with losing its AAA rating and responded by stating that Britain should lose its first.
    Earlier in the week President Sarkozy had branded David Cameron and 'obstinate kid' and not because he refuses to use the toilet when he should (apparently desperately needing to urinate was a concentration aid during the EU negotiations last week. Imagine what he's holding in during really important negotiations.) Sarko was narko because of the veto Cameron deployed to avoid financial rules the rest of Europe was agreeing to.  Whatever! Really it's just the latest in a history of battles with our frenemies across the channel.

    A YouGov poll last year asked over 4,000 British and French people to identify common traits in the opposite nation. The British were fairly complimentary just marking the French down because they don't get anything done in August. On the other hand the French said we were no use at cooking or love and eat and drink too much, with a number of

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  • This week saw the biggest public sector strikes since 1979 due to pension cuts and salary freezes. Up to two million public sector workers went on strike, resulting in the closure of 62% of state schools in England and the cancellation of 6,000 non-urgent hospital operations. In total 135,000 civil servants went on strike, representing just over a quarter of the civil service. The Guardian lists: 'border agency staff, probation officers, radiographers, librarians, job centre staff, court staff, social workers, refuse collectors, midwives, road sweepers, cleaners, dinner ladies, paramedics, tax inspectors, customs officers, passport office staff, police civilian staff, driving test examiners, patent officers and health and safety inspectors.'

    [Related story: Clarkson public sector comments 'pre-arranged with BBC']

    Lined up against them was Jeremy Clarkson, speaking on 'The One Show', advocated taking strikers outside and executing them in front of their families. This he believes is

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  • Last week the phone hacking inquiry was attended by lots of really rich and privileged people all boo-hooing about the fact that tabloid scum have been rifling through their bins. It's hard to feel too sorry for Hugh Grant. He's the multi-millionaire actor who's so bad to call him wooden would be insulting to doors (he's more like MDF), and someone who saw his profile rise higher because his ex-girlfriend had a fantastic figure that was amply exposed by a safety pin dress that was duly plastered all over the tabloids.

    Poor super rich Max Mosley objected to the classic News of The World headline about pictures and videos that appeared like one of the rag's truer headlines. It's not necessarily great journalism but it's often entertaining and informative (in a way) and pricks the pomposity of the rich, exposing their decadent, weird behaviour. The Leveson Inquiry has indentified 46 core participants, made up of celebrities, politicians, sportsmen and members of the public who have been

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  • The number of unemployed young people topped a million this week, meaning one in five is now signing on. Access to university has been restricted meaning only the loaded are able to afford the fees. The BBC quoted the General Secretary of the University and College Union as saying: "Aside from the financial cost of consigning hundreds of thousands of people to the dole queue, we risk producing a generation with few prospects and little chance to alter their situation."   It is about the same cost to create a job for a young person as to pay for them to sit at home developing life skills like watching Jeremy Kyle, rolling spliffs and going to the shops in their pyjamas.

    The National Union of Teachers said the government were culpable and had damaged young people's life chances by abolishing the education maintenance allowance (EMA) that enabled poorer, higher education students to stay in college. In other countries where young people were out of work and couldn't study there have been

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  • This week public sector union Unison voted to strike on 30 November. Their 1.1 million strong membership includes dinner ladies, bin men and nurses who will be joining the members of other unions like the Public and Commercial Services union, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers on the day of mass action. Not all members voted to walk out, but across all the organisations the number of ordinary people who are going to lose a day's pay is much higher than the number who think spending billions on another Greek bail out is a good idea.

    The strike on the 30th is about public sector pensions. The coalition is raising the retirement age to 66, introducing a contributions increase of 3.2% and linking pension increases to the CPI rate of inflation, not the typically higher RPI. This benefit is now being used by the government and elements of the media to divide working people. "Those lucky public sector workers, their pensions are still more than you're

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  • Alix Partners is the firm of management consultants who are advising the Ministry of Defence on how to cut costs. They charge the MOD a daily rate of £4,000 per consultant that, as the 'Daily Mail' points out, amounts to more in a week than a soldier's annual salary. This could either be money well spent by a department so notorious for their costly incompetence that some clued-up consultants could save the tax-payer an aircraft carrier of cash; or it's good money after bad as the management whizz kids will simply recommend sacking squaddies, without attacking the real problem, the highly paid top-brass that is running the place into the ground.

    In 2011 then Defence Secretary Liam Fox described how MOD chiefs had to take the blame for the swinging cuts the coalition is making to the armed services, telling 'The Guardian': "I think the MoD consistently dug a hole for itself that it eventually found that it could not climb out of." There are too many instances to list but some notable

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  • This week a 19-year-old mother from Blackpool called Kayleigh Searle was jailed for eight years for leaving her baby blind and severely disabled after slamming his head into a door and throwing him into a washing basket. The judge who sentenced her was so furious that he took a 15 minute break before passing the sentence in order that he wouldn't unjustly punish the accused. Despite struggling to deliver a fair verdict there could have been no doubt that this was the most horrendous case of child abuse, directed at a three month old baby, a world away from the mild smacks many parents administer to naughty children.

    This week the Welsh Assembly was debating whether to outlaw hitting children and ended up sort of agreeing that banning parents from smacking kids was a good idea but that they'd best not change the law during this term, meaning nothing will happen until after 2016. The minister responsible for children, Gwenda Thomas, said of the fudge that she was "committed to retaining

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  • PA-11833989This week the chief executive of Citigroup, one of the world's biggest banks, called the actions of the Occupy Wall Street protestors "Completely understandable…" a statement the vast majority of Americans would agree with if the slogan "We are the 99%" is to be believed. The message is a simple one, that all Americans except for the 1% of Wall Street financiers have been devastated by the crash. It's this sense of injustice (compounded by the fact that the people who caused the crash are the only ones to have avoided its impact) that has sparked copy-cat protests in cities across America and inspired a British version, hitting the City of London this weekend. 99% of people are likely to feel more sympathy with the protestors than the bankers (I'm using this as a catch all term for anyone who does something really well paid in the City) because of a feeling that they have become a class apart, gamblers who can never lose because they're protected by politicians who bail them out with

    Read More »from Occupy the Stock Exchange is about knowledge, not obstruction
  • Even mainstream American politicians seem like unhinged lunatics to us Brits. Take Republican candidate Rick Perry, it was revealed this week that until recently his family ranch was called Niggerhead, or his rival Michelle Bachman who thinks Hurricane Irene was a manifestation of God's wrath at government overspending. They're radio rental and that's what makes American politics so much more engaging than ours. It was the last of the party conferences this week, an exercise in ennui during which even the Prime Minister appeared to be on the edge of passing out (during the Chancellor's keynote speech). Once, back in 2002, in an effort to prevent the audience slipping into a collective coma Theresa May wore some leopard-print shoes.

    It was rumoured that this year she was going to go a step further, exiting stage left to 'Rocks' by Primal Scream. A racy choice for a conference audience who probably consider Cliff Richard to be dangerously subversive, especially as the song contains

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