Harry’s return – round spherical objects

Ingrid Seward of “Majesty” magazine

Harry’s return from Afghanistan demonstrates the problem with 24 hour news channels.
When there is something significant going on, like an election, then 24 hour news channels are relatively interesting. But then you get something like the Harry’s return and they plaster it all over the shop.
I employ what I call the “Seward” rule” on these occasions.
The moment that BBC News 24 wheel out Ingrid Seward, gushing editor-in-chief of “Majesty” magazine (as they did this morning), is the moment I switch off the telly and get a life.

Chris Huhne supports Clegg on walk-out and EU poisition

In tomorrow’s GMTV Sunday programme, Chris Huhne strongly supports Nick Clegg’s Commons walk-out:

I think Nick has been absolutely right on this and we entirely agree both on the European issue and on the way in which we protested over the ruling that our vote would not be called because, frankly, for a major opposition party with more than a fifth of the votes in the country, to be denied the chance to put, to the votes in the House of Commons, an issue that was a manifesto promise for us is frankly outrageous, and if you look at the normal Commons procedures they’re already stacked massively against us, so David Cameron for example gets six questions at Prime Minister’s questions, Nick gets two questions at Prime Minister’s questions, but even if you look at that sort of ration in terms of votes on amendments coming up we’ve been through more than six days of debate on this EU Lisbon treaty in which every single day it was a Tory amendment that was called, and for the first time we said ‘we want a Liberal Democrat amendment to be called so that we can vote on it precisely because it was a matter in our manifesto. In my view the speaker was extremely ill-judged to refuse that.

It is also good to see Chris robustly defending the party’s stance on the EU Reform treaty:

I think that one of the issues that comes up with my constituency is that they actually want, even if they’re pro-European as I am, to have a chance to reach a judgement about all of the changes that we’ve had over time, not just the recent EU reform treaty, but the much more major changes such as the Maastrict treaty, the Single European Act, which the last Conservative government pushed through without a referendum even though we weren’t pushing for it, and one of the reasons why we promised in the General Election that we should have a referendum on the constitutional treaty is precisely because the constitutional treaty re-wrote everything, it summed up all of the previous treaties, it was a 157,00 words long whereas the reform treaty is a mere sliver of a thing at 44,000 words long, so these are very different animals and the nearest thing to the promise we made at the General Election that we would have a referendum on the constitutional treaty is a referendum on whether we stay in or out….

Chris also makes it clear that there is a fundamental difference between the Reform treaty and the previously intended constitution:

…the constitutional concept has disappeared, the complete new writing has disappeared and we’ve got, by the way, substantial changes in our opt-outs on justice and home affairs, we can now opt in or opt out almost like going into a restaurant and choosing from the menu, so we’ve had very different arrangements to what we had then. So, for all of those reasons, we think that the right referendum, without question to have a referendum, is whether we should stay in or out, and, by the way, the reform treaty, also, for the first time in article 49A says that a member state secede, so this is an appropriate referendum given the Reform treaty’s new provisions for a member state to get out.

Hillary’s double bind

Shirley Williams makes some very pithy comments about Hillary Clinton in a special report in the Guardian by Emma Brockes:

German culture, for example, welcomes the idea of there being a somewhat different, feminine leadership style, and likes the fact that Angela Merkel is a peacemaker and is always seeking consensus; it’s what they expect from her. Americans might expect it and see it as womanly, but they don’t like it. Which is why Hillary has had to try a style of leadership that is very male. And then she disappoints those who thought that having a woman would make a difference

It’s an interesting comparison with Mrs Thatcher who came across as very tough. But she also had if you remember – like Hillary Clinton’s tear – these uncalculated moments. Like ‘rejoice rejoice rejoice!’ After we won the Falklands, she came out and said that very passionately. She was like an extraordinarily emotional headmistress.

The article also quotes Melanne Verveer, who was Clinton’s chief of staff when she was first lady and thinks that she can’t win, whatever tone she adopts:

She has made it to a point that no previous woman has made it to in our country, in terms of being a really viable candidate for president. But I think in the process of demonstrating that one is competent and tough enough to be commander-in-chief, in the process of presenting that image, the reaction is ‘well, perhaps in doing that she’s not likable’, yet if one presents herself as soft and likable, which she also is, the perception is she’s not tough enough. So it’s this double bind.