If you're a French voter you could have been fined up to $99,000 for looking at this website before 8pm tonight

I mean this one, which is the online site of a Belgian newspaper, La Libre, reporting that Hollande is beating Sarkozy 28% to 26% in exit polls, in the French Presidential election, round one.

Belgian and Swiss websites are not subject to the law in France which forbids the publication of exit polls on polling day.


Fanny Cradock meets her match with a great historian while Kenneth Williams gets a good old Barnsley dressing down

I’ve been catching up on Talk at the BBC on BBC Four. It’s a collection of priceless clips from “arguably the golden age of conversation” of the 1950s to the 1970s.

Many of the early 50s/60s clips feature interviewers with rather plummy accents who conduct somewhat stilted discussions. Despite that, some interviewees shine out as exceptional, for example Orson Welles and Bette Davis.

But what is clear is what a great pioneer, what a blast of fresh air, was Michael Parkinson. His slightly embarrassed ear-tugging and nose-stroking can be rather tiresome. But his relaxed, down to earth, but probing style stands out, head and shoulders above the clips involving earlier interviewers.

A couple of clips from Parky stand out for me. They involve interaction between guests, straying from the well-versed anecdote (often the usual fare of retrospective Parky viewing) into political discussion.

The following clip featuring Kenneth Williams, flanked by the ultra-avuncular Sir John Betjemen and Maggie Smith, is highly entertaining. Williams gets on his high horse about union strikes, but meets his match with Parky, who gives him a Barnsley dressing down in no uncertain terms. It’s all very good-humoured though. We don’t seem to get this type of conversation on the telly these days.

This second clip is similarly priceless. It has Parky with the remarkably surprising duo of TV cook Fanny Cradock and A.J.P Taylor. Equally surprisingly, the result is a marvellously engaging debate on politics and the French (Cradock was half-French). Cradock’s outspoken shooting-from-the-hip is met with the calm, urbane and relatively authoritative disagreement of the great historian. Wonderful.

Right on, Tim Farron!

From PoliticsHome:

Lib Dem MPs will withdraw their support for proposed boundary review changes unless the Conservatives back reform of the House of Lords, party president Tim Farron has warned.

Speaking to the Independent, Mr Farron said Lib Dems were ready to sabotage a key part of the Coalition Agreement unless rebellious Tory backbenchers kept “their part of the bargain” and supported an elected upper chamber.

David Cameron has been accused of encouraging the rebels, reports The Times, after the Prime Minister told Tory MPs in February that he would rather not enact the reform in this Parliament because of more pressing issues facing the country.

Take that Eleanor Laing!

A highly recommended film for political anoraks

I now know what Sky Alantic is for. Recently they showed Game Change, the film about the McCain/Palin 2010 campaign. It is a superb film, which makes some sense of this strange episode in American history.

Why? How? ….did the McCain campaign choose Sarah Palin as their VP pick? Did they live to regret it? The film attempts relatively plausible answers to those questions, in an entertaining package.

Woody Harrelson is brilliant in the film, as McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt.

I was left thinking, as I thought at the time, why didn’t McCain just choose Kay Bailey Hutchison? Answer: she’s pro-choice.