As the Conservatives continue their talks with the Democratic Unionist Party, columnist Mark Steel looks over the possibilities that lie ahead for the new parliament.
Protest against cuts to the Library of Birmingham last year. The main thing to realise about the crisis in Britain's steel industry, which is rapidly shedding jobs, is that the government has been clear and decisive.
With an organisation as important as the Labour Party accused of something as serious as antisemitism, it’s a relief that everyone has managed to stay calm and measured, and not exaggerate things in any way.
It was highly moving to hear British Prime Minister David Cameron explain that the reason he gave misleading answers about benefiting from his father’s offshore tax arrangements exposed by the Panama Papers leaks was because he was angry with comments made about his dad. It makes you realise that, when it comes to tax avoidance, the Camerons are the real victims.
Britain's major political parties are so scared of an alternative that they won't even let the left-wing, anti-austerity Green Party into televised debates. If the Greens aren't allowed into the TV election debates, there should be a compromise, such as its MP, Caroline Lucas, being allowed to present an episode of Top Gear.
This week, by law, I have to deride Russell Brand as a self-obsessed, annoying idiot. No article or comment on Twitter can legally be written now unless it does this, so by the weekend the Sunday magazine recipes will go, “Goose and marmalade paella, serves six ― unless one of the six is Russell Brand in which case he can make his own dinner as he’s such a rebel I suppose he doesn’t agree with ovens”.
Even if you have no interest in football and have never watched a single game before now, this is the time to accept that all of us, including you, should hate Sepp Blatter. Partly this is because recent investigations, which have taken years to complete, show that he's repulsive. He may have responded with a statement that “I completely deny I am in any way repulsive”, but the evidence is overwhelming, with further reports set to disclose staggering global levels of repulsion he can't ignore.
It seems to have been decided that the best response to the success of Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party that won 27.45% of the vote in the May European elections, is to try to copy him. The Tories will soon reveal that one of their councillors declared that “the shape of a Romanian’s spine proves he’s actually a type of stinging nettle” on an election leaflet, but it was a mistake anyone could make, especially as the councillor had an earache at the time.
The older you get, apparently, the more you abandon the daft socialist ideas of your youth to become sensible and conservative. There will never be a greater retort to this miserable myth than the life of Tony Benn. Because somehow he became more defiantly, inspiringly, stroppily, youthfully socialist every year up to 88. If he’d lasted to 90, he’d have been on the news wearing a green Mohican and getting arrested for chaining himself to a banker.
I wonder how useless you have to be as a banker before they don’t give you a bonus. If you turned up for work drunk on Special Brew and Dubonnet, and wet yourself over the computers causing the FTSE to short circuit, bankrupting Brazil and forcing the defence ministry to pawn its tanks at a Cash Converters in Southend, maybe they’d say: “You get just half a million this year, until you wipe yourself down with a sponge.”
If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like your kids mixing with problem families, the type who are always getting arrested, you wouldn’t want them going near Tony Blair, would you? Five times now he’s been the subject of a citizen’s arrest. This fits with what the police often say, that the vast majority of crimes are committed by a handful of repeat-offending troublemakers. Whenever he’s asked in interviews about the war that caused his problems, he gives an exasperated sigh and says: “Oh look, I mean, huh, we’ve been through this many times before.”
Now the centenary of 1914 has got going, we should do as British education secretary Michael Gove suggests and celebrate the First World War, instead of taking notice of “left-wing academics”, who complain it was a regrettable waste of life. But the other day, on the radio, they played an interview with Harry Patch, the last man alive who fought for the British in the war. Harry said: “Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”
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