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Humorous Dispassionate

Little Johnny comes home from Sunday school with a black eye.
His father sees.

it and says, Johnny, how many times do I have to tell you not to
fight with the other boys?

But Dad, said Johnny, It wasn’t my fault. We were all in church
saying our prayers. We all stood up and my teacher in front of
me had her dress in the crack of her butt. I reached over and
pulled it out. That’s when she hit me!

Johnny, the father said, You don’t do those kind of things to
women! Just leave it alone!

Sure enough, the very next day Johnny came home with the
other eye black and blue.

Johnny’s father said, Johnny, I thought we had a talk about this!

But Dad, Johnny said, It wasn’t my fault. There we were in church
saying our prayers. We all stood up and my teacher…

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Heaton-Harris Windfarm Machinations Under The Spotlight

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

Chris Heaton-Harris is in a spot of bother after the Guardian splashed on conversations he had with undercover Greenpeace operatives. Mr Heaton-Harris, coordinating the Tory byelection bid in Corby, apparently promed to provide “a handful of people who will sort him out” to anti-windfarm campaigner James Delingpole. At the time Mr Delingpole was mulling standing for the Corby seat. The deputy chairman of Mr Heaton-Harris’ constituency party later resigned to become Mr Delingpole’s election agent. The latter announced he would not stand in Corby following John Hayes’ comments about windfarms.

Mr Heaton-Harris has admitted to “boasting” about matters over which he had “no control”. Even so, his remarks on Mr Hayes’ position are revealing:

“He’s a man in a department which absolutely hates him [but] there’s enough support in Cabinet to keep him there and at the moment it’s quite active on the issue.”

Of course, as Mr Heaton-Harris pointed out, Mr Delingpole never paid a deposit and was never a candidate.You might say that the scheme, if there was one, was merely a way of drawing attention to what was a naturally evolving change in the Tory position, as evidenced by what John Hayes has said, not least yesterday on the limit for on-shore windfarms being reached (see Telegraph report).


Having begun yesterday with a call to the sunlit uplands of equality and fraternity between all, George Osborne would have ended it rather despondently. Inflation jumped from 2.2pc to 2.7pc on the CPI measure, fuelled by the trebling of tuition fees and rising food prices, as the Telegraph reports. Higher prices on the high street will hit consumer spending at just the wrong time for the Chancellor, as he seeks to prove that the 1pc GDP growth in the last quarter was no fluke.

Consumer confidence, dented already by the news on inflation, could be further hit when George takes up the axe once more in the Autumn Statement. The Guardian reports that Iain Duncan Smith will present the options for further cuts to ministers including Mr Osborne this week, in time for inclusion in his statement on December 5th. IDS is looking to identify where a further £6bn of welfare cuts to be made in 2015/16 while George is eyeing a further £10bn saving by 2016/17, as I noted in my column yesterday.


George’s promotion of gay marriage yesterday was a “dangerous game” according to the Telegraph‘s leader, which accuses the Chancellor of “political posturing”. Worse still for Mr Osborne is the news that 15 Tory backbenchers seem to have a rather more conservative approach to lifestyles. A letter to the Telegraph signed by Tim Loughton, Sir Gerald Howarth, Nick de Bois and Priti Patel, among others, call for tax breaks for married couples. The Great Progressive clearly still has work to do. The allowance was scrapped in 1999, but the MPs argue that promoting the nuclear family is essential in tackling social breakdown, and point to figures from America showing that the marital status of parents is a greater determinant of wealth than their education level. That said, even two parent families will not be better off under Nick Clegg’s new flexible working rules, Jill Kirby writes in today’s Telegraph:

“If the Government really wants to facilitate such choice, and improve the lives of families, it should focus its attention on the cost of living. Keeping a lid on inflation, and cutting wasteful public spending in order to fund tax allowances for working families would be a more helpful course of action than piling new regulation on to businesses and damaging parents’ job prospects.”


Dave will pledge an in/out referendum on European Union membership, once he stops postponing the announcement, the Sun reports. The paper claims tha the Prime Minister had intended to deliver the promise at October’s conference, and will definitely do so by the end of January. The reason for the delay? He doesn’t want to upset other European leaders, although I think it is the content rather than the timing which will raise hackles in Brussles.


Four of the five MPs sitting on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will not extend their contracts amid a row over the influence of John Bercow. Sir Scott Baker, Jackie Ballard, Ken Olisa and Professor Isobel Sharp will all stand down in January as, in the Mail‘s words, they are “deeply unhappy about Mr Bercow’s demand that they re-apply for their jobs in a process overseen by a former MP [Peter Atkinson] who repeatedly voted to block publication of MPs expenses”.


Writing in the Telegraph, Iain Martin argues that the Prime Minister popping a button on his shirt midway through the Lord Mayor’s Banquet is the least of his sartorial worries. Instead, it is the trend for tieless politicians which threatens to drag this country into the abyss:

“I am not suggesting ties should be mandatory at all times. Men need not wear them in the shower, or when jogging. But these are serious times… Britain is up against all manner of countries with hundreds of millions of ambitious workers who will do anything for a bit of growth – including dressing appropriately if asked to. Gentlemen, this country is in a hole. Put on a tie.”


Earl Ferrers has passed away after half a century of service in the House of Lords. The 13th Earl topped the ballot to remain when all but 92 hereditary peers were removed by Labour in 1999. The Telegraph’s obituary can be read here.


The Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire was “put to the testes”, as the Sun would have it, last night. Nadine emerged victorious from an eat off with Helen Flaneggan, having put away a lamb testicle, a baked spider, a camel toe and an ostrich anus. Her only failure was with a fermented duck egg. If you can find a tabloid without a “Go Nads!” headline this morning, you’re doing well.


Claire Perry has been burning the candle at both ends:

@claire4devizes: “Don’t think there is enough concealer in the world to cove my under-eye circles tonight #sleepingbadly”


In the Telegraph

Mary Riddell – New sheriffs in town – but will the face of law and order change?

David Willetts – Defend universities – but celebrate them too

Jill Kirby – Clegg’s not going to give her a helping hand

Iain Martin – Our tie-less brigade deserves a dressing down

Best of the rest

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£) – Wild, dangerous paranoia has no place here

Sebastian Mallaby in the FT (£) – Europe is messing up Merkel’s union

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian – Bureacracy has become the BBC’s dieback disease

Ian Birrell in the Daily Mail – There is something profoundly wrong with a Britain where only the ‘little people’ pay taxes


TODAY: Commons in recess.

08:10 am: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to join Eurostar’s 18th Birthday celebrations. St Pancras International Station, on the Eurostar Platforms.

10:00 am: Education Secretary Michael Gove speech on exam reform at Independent Academies Association autumn conference. Also speaking are former schools minister Lord Adonis and shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg. Adonis speech 1015, Twigg 1415 and Gove 1445.

10:30 am: Bank of England publishes its quarterly forecasts for GDP and inflation.

10:30 am: Culture Secretary Maria Miller makes her first speech as Women and Equalities Minister. The Deloitte Academy, Deloitte LLP, Stonecutter Court, 1 Stonecutter St.

12:30 pm: David Cameron bilateral talks with PM Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand. 10 Downing Street.

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PA Pundits - International

By Alan Caruba ~

In March 2012, as part of my monthly report on new books,, I recommended “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus”, noting that Paula Broadwell “had considerable access to the man who now is director of the CIA and who had an illustrious military career.” Neither I, nor anyone else realized how much “access” she had. It turns out, as well, that much of the book was ghost-written by Vernon Loeb, who received credit on the cover. Even he was caught unaware.

As the story continues to unfold in the wake of Petraeus’ resignation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, just a day after the reelection of President Obama, the stench of moral and political corruption continues to rise from everything that led to his resignation.

First there was the general’s affair with the married biographer, Ms. Broadwell. It is not uncommon for…

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Bank of England foresees persistently low growth

Here are the main points to be drawn from today’s Inflation Report and accompanying Bank of England press conference.

The biggest one was the Bank of England’s admission that the UK economy may be in a period of persistently low growth. This might seem like a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, but it’s not something the Bank of England’s Governor, Sir Mervyn King, has been prepared to concede before.

Yet today he was in particularly gloomy mood over the chances of resolving imbalances in the world economy, which he sees as the biggest barrier to sustainable growth in the UK. Dire new forecasts from the Conference Board for developed and emerging market economies would appear to confirm his very worst fears.

The second big talking point is that the Governor wants to see a further big devaluation in sterling. Appreciation of the pound over the past year was branded “not at all welcome”, and plainly unhelpful to the already daunting task of rebalancing the UK economy.