A Very Diplomatic Flight Attendant

A 50-something year old Muslim man arrived at his seat on a crowded flight and immediately didn’t want the seat. The seat was next to an elderly white woman reading her Bible.

Disgusted, the Muslim man immediately summoned the flight attendant and demanded a new seat. The man said “I cannot sit here next to this infidel.”

The fight attendant said “Let me see if I can find another seat.”

After checking, the flight attendant returned and stated “There are no more seats in economy, but I will check with the captain and see if there is something in first class.”

About 10 minutes went by and the flight attendant returned and stated “The captain has confirmed that there are no more seats in economy, but there is one in first class.

It is our company policy to never move a person from economy to first class, but being that it would be some sort of scandal to force a person to sit next an UNPLEASANT person, the captain agreed to make the switch in this case.”

Before the irate Muslim man could say anything, the attendant gestured to the elderly woman and said, “Therefore ma’am, if you would so kindly retrieve your personal items, we would like to move you to the comfort of first class as the captain doesn’t want you to have to sit next to such an unpleasant person.”

Passengers in the seats nearby began to applaud, while some gave a standing ovation.


Grandpa/Grandma Differences

There was this loving grandfather who always made a special effort to spend time with his son’s family on weekends.

Every Saturday morning he would take his 7-year-old granddaughter out for a drive in the car for some quality time – pancakes, ice cream, candy… — just him and his granddaughter.

One particular Saturday, however, he had a bad cold and really didn’t feel like being up at all, but he knew his granddaughter always looked forward to their drives and would be disappointed.

Luckily, his wife came to the rescue and said that she would take their granddaughter for the drive and breakfast.

When they returned, the little girl anxiously ran upstairs to see her grandfather who was still in bed. “Well, did you enjoy your ride with grandma?” he asked.

“Not really, Pa Pa, it was really boring.

We didn’t see a single asshole, queer, lesbian, piece of crap, horse’s ass, liberal pinko democrat Obama lover, blind bastard, dipshit, Muslim camel humper or son of a bitch anywhere we went!”

Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

George’s Tax Transparency

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

Welcome back – Easter is over, the new tax year has started, and George Osborne is thinking about how to extract more money again. We’ve splashed on an interview with the Chancellor, in which he reveals his shock at discovering that very rich people often don’t pay much tax.

As we report, HMRC has found that some unidentified multi-millionaires are paying an effective income tax rate of less than 10 per cent by using dodges such as writing off losses in businesses, investing in buy-to-let properties and so on – but also, by donating money to charity. Mr Osborne says this:

“I was shocked to see that some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs, and to be fair it’s within the tax laws, so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax. And I don’t think that’s right.”

What strikes me coming back is the contrast between Chancellor’s push on tax transparency which is evidently inspired by the growing American trend of politicians being expected to publish their medical records, and his restriction on deductible charitable giving, which goes against the American enthusiasm for state encouraged philanthropy. He will have also encouraged curiosity about the identity of those he accuses of using legal means to avoid tax.

As Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian, Jeremy Hunt was quite surprised by the crackdown on philanthropic dealing, at least according to Sir Nicholas Hytner, the National Theatre’s artistic director. Hunt has set out plans to collect donations, and “it appears that the Treasury has completely pulled the carpet from under him”, says Hytner.

We’re with Hytner. As we say in our leader today, while cutting down on excessive tax avoidance is welcome: “if the Coalition really is committed to smaller government, then making people less likely to give money by treating large charitable donations as a form of tax evasion is an odd way of proceeding.”

In today’s Guardian meanwhile, Polly Toynbee suggests that the tax affairs of every citizen should now be open to the public. “The tax genie is out and nothing Osborne publishes will be enough – he needs to say what’s in his wife’s name, what wealth he has in trusts, and so on.” A bit much, no?


Meanwhile, Dave is on tour again. The PM flies to Tokyo today with a brood of British defence contractors to exploit Japan’s newly relaxed procurement rules.

Nick Watt has a good report in the Guardian – he reminds us that the PM’s last trip with the defence industry ended in embarrassment because his first stop was to Cairo’s Tahrir Square where he hailed democracy before flying to Kuwait with defence manufacturers.

Jeremy Hunt – who actually speaks good Japanese – and David Willetts are also on the trip, as is Chief Scientist Sir John Beddington. After talks today, tomorrow they will visit Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohoma, and No 10 hopes that will get more attention than the prospect of new defence sales.

But either way, the Japan part of Dave’s trip should be overshadowed by a pit stop later in the week in Burma to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. His trip follows from similar trips from William Hague and DfID Secretary Andrew Mitchell over the last six months, but Dave is actually the first Western leader to visit the country since the ‘90s, which held historic elections to its parliament last week.

We’ve highlighted Dave’s trip to Burma in our leader column. We welcome the recognition this gives the fledgling democracy. But: “the road to full democracy is pitted with risk. That is why Mr Cameron’s presence in Burma is so important.”


… Or – at least – that’s how the Sun splashes today. The European Court of Human Rights will announce its ruling on the extradition of cleric Abu Hamza and five other suspects at 8.30am today in Strasbourg. Tory MPs are outraged, urging the Government to replace European human rights laws with a British Bill of Rights.

On the Today Programme, Dominic Raab said it would be “grossly hypocritical” to not extradite Hamza, while Chris Heaton Harris pops up in the Sun to say that “we should tell them to stick their judgement where political correctness doesn’t shine”.

Hang on Chris – we’ve not had the judgement yet. In today’s Telegraph, Mary Riddell says we should wary of “subcontracting British justice to America”. “The human rights that Mr Cameron longs to embed in Libya are no less precious in London. If liberty and the rule of law sometimes bear a price, so be it.”


A good front pag e story in the Guardian: Labour is so strapped for cash, and so worried by the prospect of by-elections, that the party is considering banning its MPs from seeking nominations in any mayoral or police commissioner elections they may want to, after the Bradford by-election exposed the party’s internal weaknesses.

According to Patrick Wintour, the idea has the support of Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the party, and of figures in the Labour whips’ office. As he reports: “Labour is angry at the prospect of having to fight a string of expensive byelections in safe Labour seats that would drain party resources away from targeting marginal seats later in this parliament, or at the next election.”

I suppose this just underlines quite how shoestring Labour’s operation is these days; you would think with a 10 point lead, the party would jump at the opportunity of inflicting a few defeats on the Government parties. Does this mean that Liam Byrne will get to hang on as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary? If so, that’ll annoy a few leftie Labour MPs…


Speaking of mayoral elections, the Boris/Ken race drags on. Today, the Times has a fascinating report from a focus group held in Bromley, south London – a key suburban borough where both candidates will hope to capture the vote. As Sam Coates reports (£), it was bad news for Ken Livingstone and good news for Boris.

Just take this quote, from Dawn, 49, a fitness instructor: “Boris has the courage of his convictions, while nobody trusts Ken. People buy people. The majority of Londoners are not deeply into politics. They just want somebody to be there who they feel they can trust”.

Indeed, Boris will be particularly pleased by this quote, from Gary, 42, a pensions administrator: “We need a strong leader, another Margaret Thatcher. At least she had the courage of her convictions. She’s like Boris Johnson, but in a different way. In a dress”

Boris is Thatcher in trousers? I’ve never heard anyone say that about George Osborne; the Boris-for-PM campaign rolls on, it seems…

Meanwhile, Ken, who another voter describes as “slimy”, will be worried; today, the Labour candidate is actually in Bromley, taking part in a ‘fare ride’. Can he convince these disparaging voters?


And on strong leaders, do read Don Porter’s piece in today’s Telegraph. Mr Porter was chairman of the National Conservative Convention and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board, as well as a Tory activist for 43 years. He’s not a fan of what the Prime Minister is doing to his party:

“Even against a discredited Gordon Brown, in the midst of an economic crisis, modernisation failed to produce the election victory it was meant to secure. The Tories not only failed to win over new voters but failed to win back more than three million who supported us in 1992.”

As everyone watching BBC Parliament yesterday well knows, the Tory party was definitely stronger during the 1992 election (the first seat won in that election by the party was in Scotland!), despite all of Dave’s modernisation.

In the FT (£), Anthony King, of the Institute for Government, sticks the knife in: Dave “is emerging as Britain’s first dilettante prime minister since Herbert Asquith” he says. “It is an impression that could destroy him. He is lucky that, for now, he faces an opposition Labour party that is so feeble.”

There are also his own MPs to worry about of course, however. As we report, a survey of Tory MP by ComRes has found that only 41 per cent of Tory MPs reckon that the same-sex measure will pass.


And finally, teachers have branded the Coalition as an “unelected dictatorship” at the union conferences in Torquay yesterday, which seems a bit much. Apparently, the NUT is planning a wave of walkouts in protests over reforms to public sector funding. We have the story here.


Mail on Sunday: Conservatives 30%: Labour 35%: Liberal Democrats 11%: UKIP 11%


Greg Hands and Therese Coffey exchanging some terrible Twitter banter:

“@GregHands: Fulham v Chelsea tonight reminds me that with Wolves facing the drop, I could again be the only Tory MP with a Premiership club in the seat.

@theresecoffey: @GregHands though if Reading go up, you’ll have new company”.

Er, yes.


In The Telegraph

Mary Riddell: It is dangerous to blur the line between judges and politicians

Don Porter: The Tory party has lost sight of its true values

Philip Johnston: Is Britain being ruined by bank holidays?

Leader: We should applaud those who give, not tax them

Best of the rest

Rachel Sylvester in the Times (£): It’s not supposed to be about you, Boris and Ken

John Harris in the Guardian: The delusions and dangers of power freak politics

Anthony King in the FT (£):It is time the dilettante prime minister got a trip

Philip Blond in the Independent: Electing the Lords would undermine its value


8.30am: The ECHR rules on whether or not Abu Hamza and others can be extradited to America to face terrorism charges

8.45am: Ken Livingstone takes part in a “Fare Ride” from Bromley, Kent, to Charing Cross for “fares action day”

Today: David Cameron in Tokyo for talks on North Korea, Iran and trade.

Today: Vince Cable will speak on ‘How Sikhs contribute to prosperity in Britain’ to mark the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi at Ernst & Young.

Today: An alleged malicious Tweeter appears in Gloucester Magistrates Court accused of hate campaign against Louise Mensch MP.

Today: EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton will be inWashingtonDC.

RNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

The Tory party has lost sight of its true values

The latest polls will not make for happy reading in No 10. After a torrid post-Budget fortnight, Labour has a strong lead. If there was an election tomorrow, they would be returned with a big majority.

In 43 years as a volunteer for the Tory party, I have always believed that the values of our activists have been at the heart of our electoral success. Yet, in recent times, there has been an almost evangelical focus on the “modernisation” or “detoxification” of the Conservative brand. The result has been a growing disconnect between the party leadership and the grassroots, and a loss of clarity, principle and policy direction.

The Conservative Party has, at its best, always been radical and reforming. Under Disraeli and Shaftesbury, it introduced social reforms before Labour even existed. But “detoxification” saw us ignore issues where we were clearly in tune with the voters, such as immigration and Europe. Even just talking about them was seen as reinforcing the supposed “nasty party” image and alienating voters.

In fact, this approach weakened our appeal among large sections of the electorate. Even against a discredited Gordon Brown, in the midst of an economic crisis, modernisation failed to produce the election victory it was meant to secure. The Tories no

Read more….

Is Britain being ruined by bank holidays?

Here I am at home, writing this column with the rain hammering against the window, the weather so bad that even the cats have decided to stay indoors. It must be a bank holiday.

I must confess I have never been a particular fan of Easter Monday, since we have already had the previous Friday off and it has no obvious religious association, nor any common law tradition. But it was named as one of four bank holidays by Act of Parliament in 1871 and we have been stuck with it ever since – though not in Scotland.

In a normal year, we have eight official holidays in England and Wales, though this year we have one extra in June to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Eight days of public holidays does not sound much; yet a think tank yesterday bemoaned even that paltry total. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) argued that public holidays are costing the economy nearly £19 billion a year in lost productivity. Its study claimed that our profligacy with days off even affects our global competitiveness, with British employees working an average of 10 fewer hours a week than those in South Korea.

Read more….