Golfing

A man goes to a public golf course. He approaches the man behind the counter in the pro shop and says, “I would like 18 holes of golf and a caddy.”

The man behind the counter says, “The 18 holes of golf is no problem, but all of the caddies are out on the course.

What I will do for you is this: We just received 8 brand new robot golf caddies.. If you’re willing to take one with you out on the course and come back and tell me how well it works, your round of golf is on me today.”

The golfer obviously accepted the man’s offer. He approached the first tee, looked at the fairway and said to himself, “I think my driver will do the job.”

The robot caddy turned to the man and said, “No sir. Use your 3 wood. A driver is far too much club for this hole.” Hesitantly, the golfer pulled out his 3 wood, made good contact with the ball, and the ball landed about 10 feet to the right front of the hole on the green.

The golfer, delighted, turned to the robot and thanked him for his assistance.

As the golfer pulled out his putter he said, “I think this green is gonna break left to right.” The robot then again spoke up and said, “No sir. I do believe this green will break right to left.”

Thinking about the last time the robot corrected his prediction, he decided again to listen to the machine. He made his putt and birdied the hole thanks to the robot and his advice

But his luck didn’t end there. His entire game was the best game he ever played, thanks to the assistance of the new robot golf caddy.

Upon returning to the clubhouse, the man behind the counter asked, “How was your game?”

The golfer stated, “It was, by far, the BEST game I ever played. Thank you very much for letting me take one of your robots. See you next week.”

A week passed, and excited, the golfer returned to the pro shop. Upon entering, he turned to the man behind the counter and said, “I would like 18 holes of golf and one of those robot golf caddies, please.”

The gentleman from behind the counter turned to the man and said, “Well the 18 holes is no problem. However, we had to get rid of the robots. We had too many complaints.”

“COMPLAINTS? Who could’ve complained about those robots? They were incredible.”

The man sighed and said, “Well, it wasn’t their performance. It was that they were made of shiny silver metal, and the sun reflecting off them was blinding to other golfers on the fair way.”

The golfer said, “So then why didn’t you just paint them black?”

The man nodded sadly and replied, “We did. Then four of  ‘em didn’t show up for work, two filed for welfare, one of them robbed the pro shop, and the other now thinks he’s the President.”

Abu Qatado not deported

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

BREAKING – Ken Clarke on the Today Programme, explaining the Government’s apparent failure to deport Abu Qatada. He said that he hasn’t seen the Home Office’s legal advice, but “there is a possibility they got it wrong” . “I’ll leave them to sort it out”, he said.

“If I may so, I’m not quite sure what the big deal is, because she did say it’s going to take some months… the key thing is when will we get the decision that we want, which is for him to be deported to Jordan with assurances that evidence from torture won’t be used”

Asked about reform of the ECHR more generally, Mr Clarke said the ECHR should only take “serious cases”, but and “we shouldn’t have all these rubbishy cases” going through it. However, he pointed out, it’s hard to get 47 member states to agree to everything.

The Justice Secretary also refused to say that the British Parliament should have a right to veto any decision, as “we have a separation of powers”, and besides, “the president of Belarus would be thrilled by that”. He added that giving more powers to Parliament would be returning to the Tudors.

CARRY ON QATADA

We’ve splashed on the Abu Qatada fiasco, reporting that Theresa May’s attempt to deport Abu Qatada has apparently been scuppered by the Home Office’s inability to count dates. This morning, Government lawyers are insisting they were right, and Qatada’s legal team wrong, about the deadline for appeals.

In sum, Theresa May was convinced that the deadline for further appeal had passed on Monday – hence her speech declaring the cleric’s “imminent” departure, but Qatada’s legal team says not, and managed to lodge a last-minute appeal after her Commons statement, delaying the ten year process even further.

Dave tried to come to the rescue late last night, declaring his intention to have Qatada deported, no matter how long it takes.
In today’s Telegraph, Martin Beckford, our home affairs editor, provides some analysis of how this farce has unfolded so far. As he notes: “It was even questioned whether the Leap Day on February 29th might have affected the calculations.”

The story has made the front pages of the Times and Independent as well as the Telegraph, as well as plenty of coverage in the Mail. Many of them also carrying a photo of Theresa with Lorraine Kelly at a party.

The Times’ has published a leader column on the fiasco: they say that Mrs May deserves “praise for resisting pressure to defy the judgement of the Court,” and that “the torturously slow bureaucracy of the ECHR goes far beyond the legitimate hearings of an appeals process.”

Today, Ken Clarke is in Brighton to open the European Council meeting, at which the British Government hopes to get agreement on reforming the ECHR. Will this make any difference to his efforts?

OMNISHAMBLES CONTINUES

The word “omnishambles” entered Hansard yesterday when the PM was grilled in PMQs for the first time since the Budget. Ed rattled off a list of government U-turns and screw ups, while Dave hit back (repeatedly, with help from his backbenchers) with Ken Livingstone’s tax affairs trouble and the Labour party’s recent by-election defeat to George Galloway.

Dave also couldn’t help but stick the knife in on the latter point when Mr. Galloway was selected for a question. As Michael Deacon reports: “Mr Cameron loudly congratulated him on his “stunning by-election victory”. We glanced at Mr Miliband. He looked strangely unwell. Perhaps he’d eaten a bad pasty.”

But it’s Dave, not Ed, who has problems. As the BBC reports, last night, the government only barely defeated substantial backbench rebellions over the “pasty tax” and the “caravan tax” in the debate on the Finance Bill. The decision to impose VAT on static caravans reduced the Government majority to just 25.

Today, Labour is hoping to force a vote on the “granny tax” – yesterday, they sent out an email to party members opposing the measure written by Joan Bakewell. Fun times for the Government whips I expect…

OBORNE V MONTGOMERIE

Douglas Carswell’s biggest defender from the PM yesterday was the ConHome editor, Tim Montgomerie. In his column today, Peter Oborne takes issue with, Montgomerie, Carswell and other Right-wing critics of the Government:

“There are approximately a dozen strident critics of the leadership, and the more outlandish their views, the less they represent the Tory party as a whole.”

According to Peter, it is actually a strength of the PM that he understands that most people aren’t political obsessives – his critics just need to realise it.

STRAW IN THE WIND

Meanwhile, Jack Straw is suffering from the omnishambles of times past. As we report , the former Foreign Secretary is being sued by a Abdel Hakim Belhadj who claims he was unlawfully transported back to Libya with the help of British intelligence agents under Mr. Straw’s watch.

Our leader column questions who should pay for the trial, concluding that: “in the unlikely event of this case ever reaching the courts, fairness demands that indemnified against financial outlay. Otherwise a dangerous precedent will have been set in a complex and contentious area.”

The Guardian’s leader isn’t as generous - the case is “the latest straw in a chilling wind.”

HIRE A HOODIE

We noted Chris Grayling’s speech at Policy Exchange yesterday, but it’s worth reporting it again today – he asked employers to prioritise local youths over Eastern Europeans. As we report , he said:

“Very often the surly young man in a hoodie who turns up looking unwilling to work can turn into an excited and motivated employee. It’s all about the expectations that they have, and the place they come from. And employers who give them that chance find it enormously rewarding.”

Bold. The employment minister has also given an interview to today’s Spectator, in which he shows off his right-wing credentials: ‘I place myself on the right — free enterprise, Eurosceptic, strong belief in the nation,”

Apparently, this for him means the repatriation of powers from Europe, but sadly for Grayling , he admits that “right now, we are not in that position.” But will we be in the future Chris? Could he be the eurosceptic the backbenchers want in the Cabinet?

SPEAKING MANDARIN

A fascinating column from James Forsyth in today’s Spectator about David Cameron’s recent problems:

“There is a split in the Cameron circle. The divide is between those who think that the problems of the past few weeks have been a blip, one that will end when Boris Johnson wins in London, and those — including some of the Prime Minister’s closest friends — who fear the problems are symptoms of a disease that could cripple the government.”

James reports that friends of Dave want him to find a “clear course of action” and “restore a sense of mission”. They also want a much bigger political team in Downing Street, in place of the civil servant-staffed policy unit. But,, he adds: “One confidant says, ‘He doesn’t think there’s an existential threat to his premiership. It takes a lot to shake him out of his complacency.’”

James is always well-sourced – the friends of Dave he cites are likely to be important ones. This column in particular has the fingerprints of someone who may soon be in California.

REEVES ON THE WAY

Speaking of advisers fleeing to the States, the Guardian reports on the departure of Richard Reeves, Nick Clegg’s speechwriter and most important adviser. Patrick Wintour has the story in the Guardian here:

“[Reeves] and his American-born wife, Erica, are to depart for the US in the summer to give a chance for his two dual-nationality children to be raised in the US and be educated in American schools. They are 13 and 10.”

There’s little reason to believe that Reeves’ departure is at all political – his personal life seems to be the key. But his departure will nonetheless be a blow to Mr Clegg: the DPM needs all the well-informed help he can get.

POLL WATCH

Latest YouGov/Sun polling: Conservative 32%, Labour 41%, Liberal Democrat 10%, UKIP on 8%

TWEETS AND TWITS

A little wit from David Miliband: “@DMiliband: Happy to sponsor Ed Balls on his marathon run. He has promised not to go too far too fast.” No doubt…

TOP COMMENT

In The Telegraph

Peter Oborne: The Right-wing agitators out to get David Cameron

Sue Cameron: FoI debate: The genie of freedom will never be put back

Leader: When ministers must pay for their actions

Leader: Justice on camera

Best of the rest

Zoe Williams in the Guardian: On fracking and wind we are having the wrong debates

Steve Richards in the Independent: It’s no accident that the wheels have come off the Government

David Aaronovitch in the Times (£): Does tax make us good citizens or slaves?

John Cridland in The Times (£): The heat is on. We need decisions on energy

THE AGENDA

Today: William Hague and Philip Hammond attending Nato ministerial meeting in Brussels

Today: Ken Clarke chairs the Council of Europe Conference in Brighton

Today: Trade Association Forum Luncheon with Danny Alexander

Today: MPs debate the Finance Bill in the Commons

10am: Press conference by Tom Watson MP to launch his book on the hacking affair, Dial M For Murdoch. William Sangster Room, Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate

10.30am: Transport Office questions

12pm: Rally of pensioners protesting at Budget measures. House of Commons, London

8pm: Sky News will host a live London mayoral debate with Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick and an audience of 250 Londoners. Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London

10.35pm: George Galloway, Sayeeda Warsi, Yvette Cooper, Tim Farron and David Aaronovitch will appear on BBC Question Time in L