Scots Labour in crisis as sleaze rows reach new high

See Updates below the fold. Full statement, first reactions and another quits! BBC News are running the scoop of Wendy Alexander’s sensational decision to quit after less than a year as Scottish Labour leader over a footling error in her leader’s campaign expenses. Only a year ago Alexander was tipped to lead the pro-Union fight back against Alex Salmond’s coup in winning office for the SNP and holding onto it brilliantly. The long-running expenses row may have thrown her political … Read more

For harrassment, read surveillance too

Mission creep has also infected RIPA the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to epidemic levels. Intended as an anti-terrorist and anti serious crime measure to be used by the police and security service, its use has spread from monitoring terrorists suspects, fraudsters and stalkers to dog fouling, littering, people on the sick, and lying about addresses for schools admissions etc etc. The rot started when Home Secretary David Blunkett extended the Act’s powers to councils and the like in 2003, … Read more

New witness intimidation law may fail to impress the judges, warns top lawyer

Jack Straw’s new law to protect witnesses from intimidation being rushed through Parliament from next week will fail to make any impact on the judges, warns leading QC and legal commentator David Pannick. Pannick’s pronouncements almost amount to law in themselves and he speaks with authority. He writes with utter certainty about this. Some local readers may smile at his reference to the Northern Ireland courts’ reluctance to admit anonymous evidence, despite paramilitary intimidation. If Pannick is correct, scores of … Read more

Ronnie challenges Davis

Next up, the Haltemprice byelection on July 10 where nominations have just closed. Former shadow Home Secretary David Davis faces not much more of a challenge to get elected than Mugabe does today, having failed to get the main parties to oppose his civil liberties campaign by standing. Poring down the list of the 25 fringe candidates, I see lurking there the name of that fine old crooner Ronnie Carroll, now 73, a famous Cregagh boy long before that Man … Read more

Anglicans and Gays- latest

The Anglican communion looks like surviving after all the putative break-away conference convened Jerusalem this week, according to the consensus of the British media present. None of the 300 divines attending has actually broken away. In time-honoured Christian fashion, they started to fight among themselves. It seems the African bishops went just a little too far for some in failing to condemn the torture of gays in their own country.. What was really going on was a power play led … Read more

EU Crisis deepens

The darkest “wow” analysis of the impact of the Irish “No” vote comes today from Anatole Kaletsky of the Times. Bullying won’t work and the vote robs the future development of the EU of ” all democratic legitimacy” he claims. Kaletsky is a leading moderate, intellectual Euro-sceptic, much respected in the wider commentariat. By contrast, here is a delicious example of the sort of Euro arrogance from the former Constitution’s principle begetter, Valery Giscard d’Estaing that will drive even fanatical … Read more

Unhappy first anniversary, Gordon

There he is, slaving away over a hot computer at dead of night, full of ideas, brimming over with drive and commitment, one of the cleverest and best informed politicians ever to have held the top office – and yet so few appreciate him. As Gordon Brown commemorates – or shrinks from – his first anniversary as Prime Minister, he is confronted with an avalanche of comment which is more varied than you might think. I’ve assembled a small digest … Read more

Journalism, politics and the internet

Mick’s post set me thinking about the mix of fear and excitement created by internet penetration that’s sweeping my own small neck of the woods, journalism and politics. You may agree with media guru Roy Greenslade that it’s good that blogging has dethroned the top-down columnist. But here is David Leigh, an old friend and top investigative journalist, fearing that the web could kill off serious journalism .Can the web really change our ways of thinking and transform the sort … Read more

Adams threat to go “back to the drawing board”

I’m sorry to miss an important speech from Gerry Adams in London tonight before what I expect will be the usual captive audience of the far English and Irish left who remain among his greatest admirers. According to a supplied text, the SF president will make his familiar claim that the GFA and St Andrew’s are all part of the long term plan to achieve ” a new all Ireland Republic”; and he will make his usual appeal for not … Read more

Robinson loses his cool

Tensions between the government and the DUP were exposed as never before since the St Andrew’s Agreement, in a sharp exchange in the Commons between Peter Robinson and the normally deferential Shaun Woodward. At NI Questions, urgings that stalling over the devolution of justice and policing should end were even dragged into a question about youth crime and alcohol abuse. After exchanges deploring the murder in Derry last night of Emmett Shields, Woodward declared that dissident republican activity was ” … Read more

Briitish and Irish race to kill off hospital bugs

Here’s a heartening story from the Independent which reports that the powers that be in British and Irish hospitals are in a race to cut down on preventable deaths. As part of a world wide experiment, St Mary’s Paddington and other hospitals are instituting new checks on surgical instruments before each operation. It’s reckoned the checks will save over 1,000 lives a year. The measures resemble the simple checks pilots make before take-off. While I know at first hand of … Read more

Shock new Bloody Sunday revelation

With the revelation that the costs of Bloody Sunday inquiry have topped £188 million, you might have thought that news about the traumatic event would have been exhausted before the long awaited publication of the Saville Report itself. But you’d have been wrong. Radio 4’s Today programme reporter Sanchia Berg has had first bite at an astounding revelation from the 1972 National Archives at Kew. The official records show that after the Derry debacle in 1972, the army in desperation … Read more

Anglicans implode over Gay Rights

Four years ago in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, I watched that supreme diplomat Archbishop Robin Eames trying – not to square the circle exactly – but to dodge around it as he presented the Windsor Report on ways of holding the Anglican Communion together after the election of the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. It was a good try but now, it seems the scales are tipping more and more heavily against him. Later … Read more

Olympic discrimination against NI?

Here’s a knotty identity issue from the DUP. NI hockey players aren’t eligible for the GB Olympic hockey team if they opt to play for Ireland in other competitions it seems, in which England, Scotland and Wales field separate teams. Alastair Ross MLA says NI players weren’t caught in this trap twenty years ago, but the rules have changed, apparently… “When the Great Britain hockey team was at its most successful, players from Northern Ireland were always an integral part … Read more

EU latest: to leave or nor to leave; or No More Treaties, please!

Two of the latest heavy comments on the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty show signs of thinking outside the box. So then, after sticking two fingers at the EU, Irish voters might be inclined to say next: “see if I care” and quit the whole sheebang? Not if they have half a wit, says Wolfgang Munchau of the Financial Times. On the other hand, Ireland might be left off the hook, according to Hugo Brady of the pro-EU and … Read more

Gordon Brown can do human, he says – revelation

I’m intrigued to see that the ambitious new website of the Westminster village Total Politics, has a certain local interest on its editorial board . Nurtured by leading Conservative blogger Iain Dale, Total Politics launches with an interview with Gordon Brown on the importance to the political process. of Parliament, the internet and social networking . This is in marked contrast to his predecessor Tony what’s ‘is name, who all but despised Parliament and was a technophobe of the first … Read more

More national and regional News on BBC Networks ( re-posted)

I‘m re-posting this because of technical problems with links in the earlier version. Many apologies. Do you feel the BBC in London have forgotten all about Northern Ireland now that the Troubles are over? That an “ordinary” murder in NI doesn’t get the same coverage as a stabbing in England? The BBC Trust, the corporation’s regulator, may well agree with you. In a recent review of UK-wide coverage, the Trust has made a “must do better” order to London newsdesks … Read more

More nations and regions on BBC national networks

Do you feel the BBC in London have forgotten all about Northern Ireland now that the Troubles are over? That an “ordinary” murder in NI doesn’t get the same coverage as a stabbing in England? Well, the BBC Trust, the corporation’s regulator, may well agree with you. In a recent review of UK-wide coverage, the Trust has made a “must do better” order to London newsdesks to improve reporting from the other Nations in particular. http:// The review applies to … Read more


I’ve been mulling over a recent encounter with Phillip Bobbitt, now regarded as the Free World’s greatest anti-terrorist guru and author of his latest work “Terror and Consent The Wars for the Twenty-First Century. 672 pages. £25, Allen Lane.” WW2, the Cold War, dealing with the IRA are all yesterday’s wars and give us few clues for dealing with present and future wars (and “wars” is what they are, he insists). The internet, a global world and science generally give … Read more