Why The Sun was right to print the Prince Harry photos

I happen to believe that Prince Harry did nothing seriously wrong during his Las Vegas frolics. I suspect that he has endeared himself further to the British public as a result of the latest revelations.

However, I do believe that the British people have a right to see publicly available evidence concerning his behaviour.

Even in private, he has some duty to behave above a certain threshold of decency. The British people have a right to see publicy available evidence to decide whether he has breached that threshold.

He is third in line to be Head of State of the United Kingdom, plus 16 commonwealth realms and
governorship of the Church of England.

Of course we have a right to see publicly available evidence of his behaviour. Of course he has to uphold certain standards even in private. And, of course we should be able judge for ourselves as to whether that behaviour is compatible with his position as 3rd in line to be head of state and as a commissioned officer in the British Army.

Someone who is the third in line to the throne, holding an officer’s rank in the army, should not strip naked with random girls.

There are other less irresponsible ways of letting off steam. He is 27 years old, not a teenager.

It is right that The Sun printed the photos so people can devide on these matters.

The monarchy is there only with the consent of the British people. They have no divine right to rule.

He’s been caught by the party guest sneaky phone camera trick before. People should see clearly that he is thick enough to be caught twice, this time with his trousers well and truly down.

Reshuffle: time to put Lib Dems in DEFRA, DfID and DCMS

With reshuffle fever and the silly season combining to reach its barking mad climax with the suggestion that John Redwood might become Chancellor, here’s a repeat of a post I wrote for Lib Dem Voice in March 2011:

Recently, I have started taking an interest in the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). My MP is one of their ministers. He seems to spend an awful lot of time on marine affairs, coastal defences and the natural environment. So, as a good citizen, I feel I ought to take an interest. For example, recently, I read through all the questions and answers at Thursday’s the DEFRA session in the House of Commons. Well done Andrew George and Duncan Hames for speaking. But, apart from their three queries, it was a Tory controlled zone.

DEFRA is unusual in that it has no Liberal Democrat ministers. (It shares that predicament with the Departments for International Development and Culture, Media and Sport, plus the Northern Ireland and Wales offices.) So what influence do the Liberal Democrats have on this very busy department which, for example, is central to the green policies which are so important to the Liberal Democrats?

We have a committee, co-chaired by Andrew George MP and Lord Greaves, to feed the views of LibDem MPs and Peers into DEFRA. It would be rewarding to know what successes this committee has had.

Is that enough? One feels uncomfortable. That discomfort was underscored by the Institute for Government’s report “United we stand”, published last September. The report recommended that “at the next reshuffle, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister should appoint Liberal Democrat junior ministers in the three major departments where the party is currently entirely without representation” (DEFRA, DfID & DCMS).

As a party, the Liberal Democrats are currently running the risk of sharing the blame for things over which they have no influence. For a department with such a hugely broad remit such as DEFRA, you can take your pick of disasters waiting to happen: Food poisoning, an agricultural disease epidemic or widespread major flooding. By being part of the government in those circumstances we’ll get blamed. But we’ll play very little, if any, part in preventing or managing such disasters.

Alternatively, look at the situation positively. The Liberal Democrats could play a hugely beneficial role for the whole government by having a minister in DEFRA. Take the example of the Common Agricultural Policy. The government has reversed Labour’s policy of ending direct subsidy payments and is against a cap for them. Despite the highest integrity of the individual ministers in DEFRA, it is very hard not to notice that the family of two of them have farms which have benefitted from the CAP subsidies. Would not the influence of a Liberal Democrat be healthy in forestalling any concerns the public may have about such links?

The Lib Dem most liked by the Tories…and yet by his own party?….

Oh dear. Tim Montgomerie, the very mention of whom causes me to snort, seems to be saying that David Laws, the very mention of whom causes me to take a long, thoughtful intake of breath, is in the frame for a cabinet position.

Don’t get me wrong.

David Laws is extremely talented and deserves a break. I suspect he will be given the Minister of State role in the department of thinking very earnestly while wearing a hessian shirt. I believe he is widely respected in the party for his economic expertise. But I don’t sense an instinctive connection with the grassroots.

Lib Dem cabinet positions are as rare as rocking horse fertiliser. How many is it? In my current relaxed position, I am having trouble counting… Let me see. Four. The trouble is David Cameron-Major is not going to give us another cab seat. Forget it. So who goes to let the blessed, sainted member for Yeovil take up his annointed seat in the cabinet? Danny Alexander?

I don’t think so.

Despite, and perhaps because of, the reveration with which self-masticating Tories regard Monsieur Laws, I would find it hard to imagine that he is the fantasy beer drinking partner for much of the party.

This post was amended post-publication to put away the cat’s claws and imbue it with a little more human charity.

Volleyball wins Gold for the touchiest feeliest Olympic sport

As we watched the Women’s Volleyball at Earl’s Court last week, I remember remarking to my daughter that as well as the number of spikes, blocks and digs for each team, the scroreboatd should also show the numeber of high fives, low fives etc.

Every single point of Volleyball is ended by a round of hugs, high fives and low fives for both teams. It is quite extraordinary. It is as if their batteries will run out if they don’t touch the other team members regularly. That’s the same for the women as for the men.

Well, I notice now that the Wall Street Journal has indeed created a touchy feely scorecard:

During their preliminary round win against China last week, members of the U.S. women’s volleyball team demonstrated their mastery of digs, sets, spikes and blocks. They also excelled in another area: Spontaneous displays of affection.

A review of the first 25 plays in that game shows that the six Americans on the court shared 24 group hugs—hugging on all but one play, when they exchanged low fives instead. There were also six high fives, 10 double-high fives, 29 low fives, two double-low fives and 12 bum taps.

That works out to 83 total touches, or an average of 3.32 public displays of affection for every stoppage in play.

“It’s a celebration sport because you can’t do it without each other,” says Lindsey Berg, the U.S. team’s captain. In these interludes, she says, “we look into each other’s eyes and we know we have each other’s backs.”

All this raises one of the least vitally important questions surrounding the 2012 London Olympics: Is women’s volleyball the touchiest U.S. Olympic sport? And if not, what is?

Romney's likely VP pick

…is Paul Ryan.

It would have been Portman or Pawlenty or any other safe boring white guy but Romney is now well behind in the polls, so he needs a game changer.

(Where have I heard that one before?)

The trouble is that Ryan next door to Romney will point up all the things that are lacking in Romney.

The Olympics and the British thing

A Sky News panel survey arrives in my inbox. The restricted reply option leaves me wanting to express more on the questions.

Have I been watching the Olympics on TV? Yes, enough to want to throw the TV out of the window if I ever hear Ian Thorpe start an answer with “Look” again.

What do I think of it so far? …as the old Morecambe and Wise set-up goes…. Not rubbish. About the same as all the other Olympics have been.

How have the Olympics made me feel? Angry that some silly producer thought John McEnroe should mouth off so much as a non-Olympian. Angry about sponsors staff appearing as torch bearers. Relieved that the French and Mitt Romney cannot brag that we cocked it up.

Do I consider myself British? Yeeeaaaaauuuuussssss…..Cornish, British, European in that order. I tend to miss out English, rather controversially. I’m a proud Celt.

Has the Olympics made me feel more patriotic? No. That would be silly. Really silly. This country being more and more tolerant of and generous towards the down-trodden and marginalised would make me feel more patriotic.

They end with asking who I think should be Sports Personality of the Year. That would be BBC Sports Personality of the Year, would it, Sky? They give a list of Murray, Hoy, Ennis etc. But I go for “someone else”. Nicola Adams. The girl is an absolute star.

Now that girl makes me feel proud to be British!