Electoral Commission 'not investigating Huhne'

From PoliticsHome:

The Electoral Commission has said it has not launched a formal investigation into Chris Huhne’s expenses, but that it is reviewing the facts of the case after a complaint was made.

A spokesman for the Commission told PoliticsHome: “We received these allegations regarding Chris Huhne’s election expenses on 25 May and following an initial assessment of that complaint, we have now started a review into the matter.

“That review would look to establish the facts of the case to see whether it merits an investigation.”

The spokesman said the review would only examine facts, not whether any wrongdoing had been committed, which would be a matter for an official investigation.

Patrick O’Flynn tweets:

Public must be getting really bored of all the Huhne allegations. What next – claims he has an illegal resemblance to Derek Nimmo?

Sarah Palin is off

After temporarily discombobulating herself with her “Blood libel” speech, Sarah Palin has been lying low for a few months. Now she’s coming back with a bang. She’s doing a “One Nation” tour of the East coast of the USA.

She isn’t telling the media where she’s going, but she’ll be touring iconic American sites in a bus with her family. It’s unorthodox, but seems remarkably astute to me.

She’s started in the last day by coming into Washington on the back of a Harley Davidson, meeting some veterans and touring national monuments “incognito” (which means “wearing sunglasses”). It’s all documented very attractively on her www.sarahpac.com website.

It now looks like she is very likely to join the Republican 2012 nomination race. But then again I have done about 50,000 U turns on whether she might or might not run and whether she might or not win the nomination.

Suffice it to say, Sarah Palin continues to fascinate me. I am grateful for her presence on the US stage.

Is watching a documentary on the A303 the ultimate act of an anorak?

Well if it is, I’ve done it. Well done BBC Four. They broadcast a documentary on the A303 (A303 – Highway to the Sun) with Tom Fort. It was an absolute joy. The man travelled from Andover to just past Honiton in an old Morris Minor traveller, describing historical and natural treats along the way.

Did you know, for example, that yards from the A303 at Longparish, Hampshire lies a monument to commemorate the murder of Earl Aetholdwold, Earl of Hampshire, by King Edgar in 963?

There is a fascinating story behind this. Aetholdwold was the best friend of the king. The king was due to marry a woman he had not met. Aetholdwold was dispatched to meet Elfrida Daughter of Ordgar Earl of Devonshire to see what she was like. Aetholdwold fell in love with her himself and put the king off marrying her. Aetholdwold married her himself. The king then twigged what had happened and killed Aetholdwold.

…Just one of the treats in “A303 – Highway to the Sun”.

Oh, and Tom Fort went to the Hampshire county archives and got out the old plans for the Andover by-pass. They were wonderful.

But what is it about the A303 which attracts such passion? Kula Shaker even recorded a song about it (below). When I was young, before the M5 and the M4, we used to come up to London via the A303. It took eight hours from Cornwall. Quite a trek.

You can find your way home on the 303
Let yourself go on the 303, on the 303


Quiz answer: The two people, connected to the LibDems, who auditioned for the lead role in "National Velvet"

Yesterday I asked for the names of two people connected with the Liberal Democrats who auditioned for the lead role in “National Velvet”.

That was the 1944 film starring Elizabeth Taylor in the lead role of Velvet Brown.

Two people (one of them deceased) with, let’s say, “connections” with the Liberal Democrats auditioned for the role which was eventually played by Taylor.

The first one, as Jonathan Calder commented was Shirley Williams – “as any fule kno”.

I discovered the identity of the other person last week. I saw a tweet saying that Chris Huhne’s mother was the voice of the speaking clock. Chris’ late mother was an actress, Ann Murray. Her Independent obituary from December 15th 2010 confirmed that she was indeed the voice of the talking clock at some stage. But I also noticed this little snippet of information:

She had her own radio interview programme at the age of 11, and auditioned for the film National Velvet. She lost the part to Elizabeth Taylor but claimed the producers had actually wanted her because she was better at horse-riding. Both she and her brother Ian were taught to swim by Johnny Weissmuller, the first Tarzan.

So there you are. Two people with connections to the LibDems who were auditioned for the lead role in “National Velvet”. That either proves that it is a small world, or that they auditioned one heck of a lot of 11 year old girls before they decided upon Elizabeth Taylor as “Velvet Brown”.

The obituary of Ann Murray is worth a read. She was obviously a very remarkable woman. You can read it in full here.

Different tunes for much-loved hymns

When you have to sing much-loved hymns to a tune which is unfamiliar, it can do your head in sometimes.

I was brought up on singing “O Jesus I have promised” to the tune of Thornbury. My grandmother loved it. This is how it goes:

It was quite late in life that I discovered that this is not the only tune used for the hymn. It was written by John Earnest Bode in 1869. The tune first associated with it was written by Arthur Mann in 1881, is sometimes called “Angel’s Tune” and goes like this:

Another common tune for the hymn is “Wolvercote”:

But there’s also this more modern version to a tune called “Hatherop Castle” which is popular:

And, looking on YouTube there are many more tunes for the hymn, including this up-to-the-minute “frantic” version:

Another hymn which has been set to different tunes (indeed scores of them in this case) is “The Lord’s my shepherd”, the metrical version of Psalm 23.

The most commonly used tune is Crimond, as follows:

…very popular at funerals.

This alternative tune is a good one (not sure of its name):

And this version to Brother James’ Air is quite beautiful:

But my favourite setting is quite new. Yes, you guessed it, Howard Goodall’s version for “Vicar of Dibley” which I will forever associate with flying northward over the M40 somewhere near Thame:

…And while we’re on the subject of Dibley, here’s a little bonus in the shape of the hilarious end to the final episode:

Trivia Quiz – Name two people connected with the LibDems who auditioned for the lead role in "National Velvet"

– That was the 1944 film starring Elizabeth Taylor in the lead role of Velvet Brown.

Two people (one of them deceased) with, let’s say, “connections” with the Liberal Democrats auditioned for the role which was eventually played by Taylor.

Know who they are? Have a go on the comments below. The answer will be revealed in another post tomorrow. And you have to be fairly sharp to beat Will Howells in these sorts of quizzes….

Political Betting – Next to exit the cabinet:BUY Lansley, SELL Huhne

In other words, the heat is off Huhne and it looks as though Lansley is next for the toaster. Mike Smithson on Political Betting presents a selection from today’s papers which supports this.

The Independent praises Chris Huhne in its leading article and says:

As we go to press, it looks as if Mr Huhne may survive, if only because of the impossibility of proving wrongdoing beyond reasonable doubt.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph has the headline “Cameron ready to sacrifice Lansley in NHS row” and Matthew D’Acona presenting a depressing prospect for Lansley:

As for Lansley, he has good reason to feel aggrieved and betrayed. His life’s work is being dismantled before his very eyes. Support that was promised is being withdrawn. He is being deserted in the most ruthless fashion. Number 10 accepts that he may well resign. Whether or not he does so, the final insult is the unambiguous signal he has already been sent by his most senior colleagues: that his departure, however regrettable, is a price worth paying. Anything – anything – to make this political horror-show go away.