Winston Churchill served twice as PM, but NEVER received the mandate of the British people – Quiz answer

Answers to yesterday’s quiz:

1. Politics

Which British Prime Minister was in Number Ten (as PM) for two full terms but never received the majority mandate of the British electorate?

ANSWER: Winston Churchill.

2. Music

What do the rock band C.C.S, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and tune meister Paul Hardcastle have in common?

ANSWER: They all performed Top of the Pops theme tunes.

Well done to Bernard Salmon, Rusty Bullet and Markcl10 for getting the answers.

PMQs: Cameron does not butter a single parsnip

Cross-posted from Liberal Democrat Voice

Well I must say, there was some dazzling stuff at Prime Minister’s questions today. But for those who might have expected some light, rather than heat, to emerge; there was disappointment. The score was 5-5 in footballing terms. A dazzling draw.

Harriet Harman’s display of debating skill was particularly stunning today. Her point was very simple and powerful. 1.3 million jobs will be lost as a result of government budget cuts, says a report this morning.

David Cameron didn’t deny this estimate came out of the treasury or say that he would publish what Harman called these “hidden treasury documents”. He did make another point. So, I think Harman scored her 5 goals on this matter. 1.3 million is a devastating figure. This one will run and run.

Cameron sort of blind-sided the point by saying that the Office of Budget Responsibility forecast says employment will go up for every year of the current parliament. A strong point, but that is obviously net employment. 1.3million people losing their jobs is still devastating for the individuals and families concerned – even if, say, 1.4million people (perhaps not the same ones) are finding jobs, sometimes with a considerable period of worry between losing one and finding another.

Cameron scored his 5 goals, not for anything of substance, but for a dazzling display of debating pyrotechnics at the end of his Q&A with Harman. Re-stating that Labour have not offered one proposal for a cut, he brandished a copy of the departmental magazine from Harman’s old department of government. He said they spent £2.4million doing up the department including £72,000 each on two storey meeting pods known as “peace pods” which the magazine said give “21st century space of quality, air and light where we can relax and refuel in the natural ebb and flow”. Cameron then finished very strongly saying “they (Labour) have gone from peaceniks to peacepods and bankrupted the country in the process”.

As a piece of Commons theatrics it was stunning. Oh how they laughed. Oh how Harman mouthed repeatedly “rubbish”. But you could pull out a supposedly embarrassing element of spending for any government. Just take the insanity of “free schools” from this government. Yes, good theatrics. But I don’t think Cameron buttered a single parsnip with that display, albeit dazzling. In other words, if you’re unfamiliar with that obscure old fashioned term, he was not high on substance.

Nevertheless, in answer to a later question, the Prime Minister did deliver one good line. He was asked, again, about public sector job losses, and asked that Labour should engage in the deficit reduction process “instead of playing this pathetic game pretending that there wouldn’t have been cuts under Labour. There would have been. You announced them – you just didn’t tell anyone what they were”. He said that very emphatically. I thought it was his best line of the session.

Here is a miscellany of other things we learnt, or which happened, in this session:

  • The Conservatives (as part of the coalition) are now formally backing a reduction in prison places while Labour (judging by placed questions from their Kevin Brennan, Gordon Banks and George Howarth) want to keep building prisons. This situation reminds me of my favourite pub name (one in Reading, Berkshire): “The World Turned Upside Down”
  • Not one but two LibDem MPs asked questions! – Stephen Lloyd about language schools and Annette Brooke about having a children’s day.
  • Our first Green MP, Caroline Lucas, asked a question for the first time, on Afghanistan.
  • David Cameron paid effusive tribute to the late Peter Walker
  • I noticed today that the Liberal Democrat MPs all seem to congregate at one end (the lobby end) of the government benches. Safety in numbers.
  • David Cameron answered a question about Sheffield Forgemasters by talking about the Post Office. Eh?
  • England football team – time to call off the dogs

    The Sun have a front page splash on the England Football team headed “Are you havana laugh?” The photo on the front page involves a cigar – geddit?????!!!!

    Apparently it is totally forbidden now for the gents in the team to have a beer or smoke a cigar. That’s wrong.

    I think it is time to call the dogs off the England football team. There should be an independent enquiry into our World Cup performance.

    But we should remember that we got further than France and Italy (both World Cup winners within the last 12 years). And we should lower our expectations. If we consoled ourselves to the fact that we are never going to win the World Cup again – unless we host it again – then perhaps we might be pleasantly surprised. It’s far less painful than the other way round – thinking we’re going to win and then getting constatnt disappointment.

    In the meantime, we should cheer ourselves with the successs of our Cricket team! There you are – cricket – a real sport!

    Trivia quiz – three music folks seemingly unconnected, and a two times British PM with no mandate

    One politics, one music question. Will Howells will get both straight away.

    1. Politics

    Which British Prime Minister was in Number Ten (as PM) for two full terms but never received the majority mandate of the British electorate?

    2. Music

    What do the rock band C.C.S, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and tune meister Paul Hardcastle have in common?

    Please try answers in the comments. Then I’ll confirm the answers at the same time tomorrow. Thanks for your involvement!

    England's football team – the problem outlined precisely in Geordie

    This is priceless. Chris Waddle blows all of Radio Five Live’s fuses with a high decibel shouting rant after yesterday’s England defeat. It’s at 2′ 26″ 00 here, delivered in a marvellous Geordie accent. It’s worth a listen. Here’s the gist of it:

    The FA just sit on their backsides and do NOTHING after tournament after tournament. Why don’t they look at other countries and say: How do they keep producing talent? We coach talent out of players…The amount of money <inaudible> is frightening. All we do is waste money on RUBBISH ideas.

    The ignominious lowering of the St George's flag over Downing Street

    The Press Association reports that the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson has confirmed that the St George’s flag was removed from the Downing Street flagstaff  “early this morning” and has been replaced by the Union Flag.

    I said all along that it was a mistake to fly the St George’s flag, instead of the Union flag, above Downing Street during the World Cup. It creates unnecessary division and is an  affront to all the Scots, Welsh, Northern Irish and English sportswomen and men who represent us and win in many other sports. It is Little Englander snobbishness at its worse in the very place in London which should clearly and proudly proclaim the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at all times, without picking and choosing between sports and constituent nations.

    And now we see another reason why the St George’s flag shouldn’t have been raised – it has to be lowered under cover of dawn in the most humiliating of circumstances. Most undignified. 

    I wonder if the “Last Post” was played as it came down….

    The end of eggs in dozens? – come on, it's too hot for an anti-EU rant

    The Usual Suspects have today been getting hot under the collar about the absolute certainty that the EU is going to ban the sale of eggs in dozens. We’ll have to have them in 1.923 kgs packs in future. Man the ramparts! Pull up the drawbridge! It’s an outrage! An attack on the British way of life! Bring on the photo of a bulldog in a Union Jack waistcoat!

    Blimey. Is it really worth getting hot and bothered about this? It’s not going to happen. It never does. I’ve gone back to the original story in the Grocer magazine about the passage of EU Food Labelling legislation. There has been an exemption (enjoyed by all countries in the EU) to nominate goods to be sold by number rather than weight. The exemption has been dropped from the legislation as it goes through the EU Parliament.

    As it stands, worst case, from what I can read, the egg industry will still be able to sell eggs in boxes of a dozen or half a dozen, but they won’t be able to write “12 eggs” or “6 eggs” on the boxes. They’ll have to write the weights instead. 

    However, I then dive down to the bottom of the story in the Grocer and read a bit not repeated by other publications such as the Telegraph:

    “…When food industry lobbyists tried to rectify the omission with an amendment, after it was discovered in the 174 pages of amendments to the initial 75-page proposal, there was not enough time to convince members of its importance before the crucial vote”, …added (Gordon Polson, Director of the Federation of Bakers).

    …But with a second reading still to come, the BRC (British Retail Consortium) spokesman…(said): “There is still time for this to be changed. We are pushing hard.”

    -As will be all the other countries. So in other words, this is not going to happen. So why does it consume the anger of the right wing media today?

    They appear to be pandering to a national inferiority complex.

    Hang loose and chill out, say I.

    By the way, I loved this comment from the Grocer’s editor:

    The scary thing is this legislation was the EU’s attempt to simplify and rationalise labelling systems. Instead it’s created a monster, with several unattractive heads. The Daily Mail is going to have a field day.

    …A prediction which proved to be spot-on.

    'Labour and LibDem angrily blame each other – but beneath it the political culture is starting to change' – Guardian leader today

    There was a bit of tweetycuffs on the #blognation front earlier today when James Graham made an excellent point:

    Sorry ppl were offended by me pointing that LDs form the fulcrum of politics atm, but its a fact ppl we all have to deal with

    We always have to deal with the centre of gravity in politics – for years LDs had to put up with the fact it lay in Labour

    In a funny sort of way, that point – that the LibDems are very much forming the fulcium of British politics at the moment, is underlined by Martin Rowson’s cartoons in the Guardian. We’ve waited decades to be lampooned like that! – Simon Hughes as Jiminy Cricket! Hilarious! 

    Forming a substantial counterweight to the cartoon in the Guardian this morning, was a very mature and sensible leading article called “Liberal Democrats – Growing Pains”:

    …the past seven days in politics…can be seen as a tough lesson in the realities of coalition politics that everyone who favours a fairer electoral system is going to have to get used to. No single party can ever deliver everything its supporters want and nor can a coalition: the best it can aim to do is to deliver as much as it can of its programme while conceding as little as possible of what offends against its principles.

    …while historians point to Liberals’ past unhappy experience of coalition, it has never before produced the prize that Mr Clegg now has within his grasp: constitutional reform that would include a change in the voting system that will end the automatic dominance of one of two main parties. The long-term reward of a more transparent and accountable political system and one, moreover, that will make sharing power a commonplace is the prize that has to be weighed against the pain of a regressive budget. Judging from reports of rising membership and contributors to websites like Lib Dem Voice, this is the interpretation of many of the party’s activists. Like estranged lovers, Labour and Lib Dem supporters each angrily blame the other side. But beneath the jibes, the political culture is beginning to change.

    'Cameron could speak at LibDem conference' – No! No! No! Haven't we done enough? Do we now have to put up with being patronised?

    I mean. We’ve bitten our pride and gone into this coalition for the good of the country. We’ve put up with a budget which made pillocks like Redwood gleam and kicked the poor. Do we now have to have the Prat from Peasemore – Mr Cameron – turning up at our conference and patronising us?!

    It’s adding insult to injury!

    No! No! No! No!

    Allow us some dignity – pul-lease!

    Beer, Spotify friends, saving lives, a heart-warming film and looking for £3.5million to buy a boyhood dream

    …A bit of a cultural diary for the week.

    * Our local Sainsburys are now stocking a wonderful selection of bottled beer. To go with the hot weather, I bought a few bottles of Bath Ales’ Golden Hare. I must say it is a superb beer for the summer. A light, golden brew but with a full slate of flavours.

    I notice that this particular brewery has set a number of hares running. As well as the Golden one, they have Dark, Wild and Rare Hares as well.

    * I have belatedly realised that I can hook up with friends on Spotify in order to try other people’s playlists. This is a delight. I had found it rather tedious to create Spotify playlists from scratch but now I just try other people’s, as well as sharing mine. It’s opened up a whole new world.

    * I was very moved by a recent Red Cross TV advert which showed a little girl who died choking on a grape. It’s based on a real incident, and features an actress playing the little girl speaking ‘from beyond the grave’, saying “There were adults there. I knew I was safe – they would know what to do”. Unfortunately they didn’t and the girl died – which, of course, she might have done even if someone had administered first aid.

    Well, this advert affected me very deeply. I immediately went to and booked myself on a one day first aid course which I completed this week. It’s amazing what can be packed into a day. I did attain a St Johns ambulance certificate for First Aid about 35 years ago, so this was a timely updating! In fact, quite a lot has changed. For example, in the old days, I remember you began heart massage with one huge blow to the chest and the objective seemed to be to try to get the heart going again. Now, there is no huge blow, it’s just 30 press downs at the speed of “Nellie the Elephant” (100 per minute) and then two blows, then 30-2-30-2 etc ’til professional help arrives. – The objective being to keep the blood moving.

    * During the week we wanted to watch some telly together as a family but there was nothing on and we had nothing the right length recorded. So we had a play with iPlayer and found something called “Blessed“. We gave it a whirl. It turned out to be a delightful family film with James Nesbitt as a stockbroker who loses his family, then becomes a lighthouse keeper and finds little girl in a wrecked boat. He eventually adopts the little girl (mind you, Social services didn’t appear to be much in evidence) and buys the island with the lighthouse after it is automated. It really was an enchanting and heart-warming film.

     * My objective for the next week is to persuade my bank manager to lend me £3.5 million so I can buy this – my boyhood dream!