Roger and his views > Westminster July 2013
Gale`s Westminster View – July 2013 

July. The first British Men`s Wimbledon Champion since the ice age, a green shoot is spotted in the City, Health Secretaries in denial, the GP`s shop steward wants still more money and Man David believes that his Parliamentary Standards Authority is too Independent. Trades Union fiddlers try to call Labour`s tune,  Credit Union Cantua has Wonga problems, May sees off Qatada , are the wheels coming off High Speed two and  is there a smoking gun in Downing Street? A good month for The Firm as Kate keeps the media waiting but the bookies got it spectacularly wrong as the “brown-haired girl called Alexandra” turns out to be a boy called George. 

At the turn of the month it is the ladies` Laura Robson setting the grass court ping-pong that is Wimbledon alight. The “curse of Cameron” strikes, however and she loses out in the early stages. Which leaves the Olympic Gold Medallist Andy Murray as the Unionist local interest in the contest. It is a foregone conclusion that Mr. Murray will be “ Scottish” if, as frequently seems probable throughout the “ooohs and aaahs” of several rounds, he loses.  If he wins, however, he will be “British”. The afternoon tea party, organised for the Sunday of the men’s` final and at which I was speaking on behalf of a colleague, attracted a curiously diminished audience and I can only conclude that my reputation as a cream tea speaker had preceded me. Anyway, as we all now know, the hex of a present Prime Minister failed to defeat the rampaging Scot, we have a British winner for the first time since dinosaurs stalked the earth and, talking of Woolly Mammoths, the First Minister of Scotland Mr. Alex Salmond pulled a flag-sized saltire handkerchief from his pocket with which to wipe his eyes in the row behind Man David. (It could not have been a real flag, could it? Such things are frowned upon by the be-blazered elite of Centre Court).  With the press trailing a premature knighthood for Sir Andrew Murray the 2013 “Summer of Sport” is off to a promising start. 

There is a little local difficulty on the political front in Scotland as it seems that the Trades Union movement has sought to “influence” the selection of the Labour candidate to be chosen to replace the outgoing Mr. Eric Joyce at the next General Election. Mr. Joyce, it will be remembered, takes to kicking doors and thumping people when in his cups which is a sadness because, when sober, the former army officer has a reputation as a reasonable bloke.  Anyway, the Unite union, led by Leonard McCluskey of that Ilk, has taken a very keen interest in ensuring that even the newest of recruited card-carrying union-affiliated Labour Party members has a vote for the “correct” candidate. Mr.McPlod is called in to investigate an “exemplary” selection process,  The row catches fire nationally, The recently canonised St. Thomas of Watson, witchfinder general of the Media select committee and scourge of the Fourth Estate, finds it prudent to resign from his post as Old Labour`s election strategist and the Leader of that Party, “Red Ed” Milipede, finds himself between a northern rock and a hard financial place.  The man who owes his position to the Trades Union vote and whose campaign funding depends upon the levy has either to be seen to be allowing the unions to call the shots or to sever the links with his brotherly past. Those who anticipated the response will not have been disappointed. MacPlod finds that there is insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution and Milipede Minor fudges the issue. With Lord (John Reid), former Labour Home Secretary and all-round bruiser, saying that the Unions are heading for oblivion, the comrades` next gathering at Congress is eagerly awaited. Perhaps not surprisingly a ComRes poll reveals that only one in four of the electorate believe that Milipede the Younger will make it to Number Ten. 

In an endeavour to turn the fire back onto the man in Downing Street Her Majesty`s loyal opposition seize upon the Government`s decision to put on hold the plain-packaging of cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is a tricky issue for any government because on the one hand we all know that “smoking kills” and on the other hand if everyone quit the weed tomorrow there would be a big black hole in the Chancellor`s tax revenue that would have to be plugged from another tax hike. The Labour party, though, “ believes” , that the change of heart is not due to tax revenue or to a professed desire for “further evidence” but is rather due to improper influence exerted by the Tory Party`s new strategy guru, the antipodean architect of the Great Boris Election Victory, Mr. Lynton Crosby. Mr. Crosby has a political PR firms that counts amongst its clients some tobacco interests. Tobacco/Packaging “climbdown”/ PM`s ear bent, game, set and match. Or not, as the case may be.  “I don`t know who wrote the “Prime Minister for Benson and Hedgefunds” line that The Milipede used at Prime Minister`s question time (clearly not Red Ed himself) but it was recognised as being, politically, a good jape.  For about five minutes.  Man David did his best to help the Labour Party to keep the story running in the media by saying that he “was not lobbied” by Mr. Crosby without actually denying that he had discussed the branding issue with his strategist.  The storm on the back of a fag packet was perpetuated when the Prime Minister, quizzed by a still recovering-from-illness Andrew Marr, continued to assert that he had not been lobbied and, while you may not like it, “that`s the answer you`re getting”.  I find Mr. Marr intensely annoying, also, but I am not the Prime Minister and using an elephant gun to swat a gnat didn`t help to put the story to bed. It was thus left to Lynton Crosby himself to assert, at the start of the summer recess, that he had never discussed the plain-packaging issue with the Prime Minister. Rumour has it, though, that on other issues Mr. Cameron has indeed been lobbied – by former Prime Minister Tony “The legacy” Blair! 

It is also said that His RH Prince Charles, heir number one to the throne, has lobbied Mr. Secretary Hunt, he of the Health portfolio, in the interests of homeopathic medicine.  The British Medical Association, the overworked and underpaid GPs trade unio9n, is reported to believe that alternative medicines of this kind are akin to “witchcraft” and would no doubt like to have HRH and probably the Secretary of State as well, burned at a suitable stake. Their shop steward, Ms. Clare Gerada, who some believe is a dab hand at dark arts herself, is also mightily exercised by the governments’ attempts to cut back the UK taxpayers` money spent on “health tourism” and at the prospect of Doctors having to ask patients whether they actually qualify for free health care under the National Health Service and our reciprocal arrangements with the European Union Member States.  This, La Gerada, believes, is tantamount to using her overworked and underpaid members as “immigration police”. Of course, if we wasted less money providing free healthcare to all and sundry who have not contributed a bean towards it then there might be more money left in the pot to pay La Gerada`s members to provide the out-of-hours service that used, until the last government signed it away, to be part of their contract and for which La Gerada believes that they should be paid still more money to staff hospital A&E services! (That`s on top of the £25 fee that a majority of her members want, we are told, just for making an appointment.)  All in all it has not been a great four weeks for the NHS.  Professor Sir Bruce Keogh`s long-awaited report that has identified grim practices within fourteen of the country`s worst hospital trusts and many other faults besides has stripped away the veneer of sanctity with which the national health service is ordinarily covered and has led to an unseemly slanging match between the former Labour Health secretary, Andy Burnham, and the current holder of that office, Jeremy “Tipped as an heir to Cameron” Hunt. Burnham appears to have ignored or suppressed warnings in the clearly mistaken belief that the NHS can do no wrong and Hunt wishes to stick as much of the manure that has hit the fan on his predecessor`s face. One in denial, the other scoring points when what matters, of course, is the poor, and in this case literally bloody, patient. We undermine confidence in our Health Service and in the staff that work within it at our peril.  Most people will say that most of our healthcare is world-class for most of the time and I hear countless and continuous comments of praise about the service provided by our local hospitals.  What matters is that when something goes wrong, as inevitably within such a massive organisation it does, the matter is identified and rectified as accountably as possible and that measures are put in place to prevent a recurrence. We cannot bring back the dead but we can try to ensure that others do not die needlessly because lessons have not been learned and that is something that I fear that the departing and unlamented head of the NHS and his senior management have failed to grasp.  The NHS is not about “targets” it is about people and we have to hope that Nicholson`s successor makes that the leading lamp. “Don`t mention the 111 “emergency call” service”.  Alright then, I won`t. 

At the start of the month Theresa May, our Home Secretary and now one of the longest serving female holders of high office, announced that the revolting Qatada would “be gone by Sunday”. And bless my cotton socks, he was.  What had confounded successive predecessors over a number of years the Darling Bud had achieved to, rightly, well-earned and warm applause. She must have the patience of a saint. No sooner has she dealt with one European Court of Human Nonsense issue than along comes another in the form of a ruling that it is a breach of Human Rights to deny convicted murderers the chance of  parole. Never mind the rights of the innocent departed or their families, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR believes that some of the vilest and most evil members of what passes for society should be afforded the prospect of release to, presumably kill again – as indeed some already have. If Mrs. May is not just a tad frustrated by this then she most certainly has a right to be. The Home Secretary seeks to opt out of  one hundred and thirty-three European police and justice measures, with a view to then opting back in to a handful that are actually both workable and, in the cause of fighting transfrontier crime, sensible.  She quite properly opposes the appointment of a “European Prosecutor” that does not dovetail with our judicial system. The concept of a “European Public Prosecutor`s Office” designed to “investigate, prosecute and bring to justice” offences “likely to affect the (115 billion) EU budget” might, in the light of the unaudited scam that is the state of European finance, seem superficially attractive. Given the model of the ECHR, however, with its backlog of 150,000 cases, and the number of Member States – France, Spain, Greece and Malta for example – that hold people for long periods without trial and in clear breach of the Convention on Human Rights (about which the ECHR does nothing) the idea of a European Prosecutor swiftly becomes ludicrous.   Mrs. May is equally robust in her views about the prospect of a “European Police Force” which is not to be confused with the collaborative services of Europol and Interpol. Notwithstanding our membership of the Council of Europe and my own position as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of that strange conglomerate of forty-seven nations, if the Home Secretary were to throw her toys out of the pram and announce that the UK was withdrawing from the Convention on Human Rights I suspect that she might receive an overwhelmingly positive response. The month-end revelation that the Home Secretary is not dieting with a view to a Leadership bid but has, in fact, been diagnosed as suffering from Type One diabetes is a sad reflection upon the manner in which every aspect of a politician`s life is now subject to the scrutiny of the gutter tabloids but all in all May blossomed in July. 

Ordinarily a “Private Member`s Bill” stands little chance of reaching the statute book.  The opportunity to introduce such a measure is usually obtained through the ballot of all back-benchers when the top half-dozen or so names drawn out of the hat are granted the time to bring forward a measure of particular constituency or personal importance. These pieces of legislation, not taken in “government time” are debated on Friday mornings and are extremely fragile. They are susceptible to being “talked out” and even if they get through the second reading process will not pass through committee without being either mauled or eventually killed off by government or those who specialise in turning up on a Friday to see off amateur attempts to introduce or change law. A Member eager to see his name in print on the statute book, therefore, has the option of taking a Government “handout bill” which is a proposal that the Government of the day favours but cannot be bothered to grant the time to push through.  This session was to prove an exception. The Conservative bit of the administration, not to be confused with “the Government” had made it known that the paving bill necessary to hold a referendum upon our continued membership of the European Union would, if introduced by a back-bencher fortunate enough to secure a prominent place in the ballot, receive whipped Party support.  And so it came to pass that Mr. James Wharton, the Member for Stockton South, having found himself in the Number One slot, achieved the second reading of his referendum Bill with a majority of 304 votes to nil!  With accustomed courage St. Nicholas of Clegg, having personally leafleted the electorate with a pledge to hold, if elected as a government, such a referendum weaselled his way out of his party`s promise and ordered his troops to abstain.  With similar decisiveness The Milipede`s Labour Party also stayed at home attending to “urgent constituency engagements”.  Whether Mr. Wharton`s bill makes it through both Houses of Parliament to the statute book remains to be seen but the point has been made:  The Tories are the only parliamentary party wedded to the concept of an “in/Out” referendum on membership of the EU and such a referendum will indeed be held, given a Conservative majority after the next election, once terms of continued participation have been renegotiated. This has generated a flurry of hyper activity from Europhiles. Sir David Manning, the gentleman who helped to mastermind Legacy Blair`s adventure in Iraq, tells us that as a nation we “face oblivion” out of the European Union and “Business for a New Europe”, which sounds remarkably like a re-branded “Business for a New Labour” is on the warpath.  With or without his moniker on a piece of legislation James Wharton has secured himself at least a footnote in the history books. 

Fresh from his triumph at the Number Ten barbeque, where the Prime Minister spent the greater part of an evening slaving over a hot griddle in the Rose Garden in the interest of keeping his backbenchers fed, Man David has declared war on Internet Pornography.  Hitherto it has been possible for pre-pubescent children, usually more net-savvy than their parents, to visit outlets of major retailers, public transport termini and the like and, using unfettered and uncensored access to Wi-Fi, tune into all manner of hard core filth down to and including material showing the sexual abuse of children of their own age or younger. Man David has made it plain that if the Googles of this world are not able or willing to exercise filters and if those offering access to Wi-Fi in public places to not self-censor the material that is available then he will legislate to do it for them.  Google asserts that it is “not responsible for on-line porn” in much the same way that a bartender selling an excess of alcohol to under-age drinkers might claim that he is not responsible for their ensuing drunkenness.  Okay, says Man David. There will be an internet block available to every home and those wishing to watch pornography will have to opt in, with all the attendant possibilities for embarrassing identification, rather than opt out.  There is, of course, the predictable outcry from bleeding-heart libertarians who seek to defend the right of “people” (not “me”, of course) to watch what they like.  For my part I do not give a damn how many of these spurious rights are trampled upon if we are better able to allow children the pleasure of childhood.  No doubt, though, that the Prime Minister`s initiative will face challenge before the ECHR – and equally probable that he will lose. 

The Salford Broadcasting Corporation has once again been making the news for all of the wrong reasons. The National Audit Office suggests that Three Hundred and Sixty Nine Million pounds worth of license fee payers` money in payoffs, to people such as Mark Byford and Caroline Thompson, may have “broken the rules”.  The new Director General concedes in front of the Public Accounts Committee that “we lost our way” over the payments but the Chairman of the Trustees, Lord (Chris) Patten remains in office in spite of the fact that MPs accuse the Corporation of misleading the Committee and the man who many believe to be the true author of much of Auntie`s Awfulness, former Director General Mark Thompson, languishes on the far side of the Atlantic drawing a fat salary as a “journalist”.  An inquiry into the performance of the Corporation reveals “a deep liberal bias”.  Mr John Inverdale, commentating at Wimbledon,  provokes the ire of no less a Grande Dame than Maria Miller, the Equalities Minister who has assumed the Patricia Hewitt mantle as the Nation`s Nanny, for what are deemed to be “sexist” remarks about a female player. Ms. Miller wants Mr. Inverdale`s head on a plate.  In a rare outburst of common sense the Corporation declines to deliver.   Iain Duncan Smith, the Welfare Secretary, accuses the SBC of (more liberal?)  bias over reports of his widely-welcomed plans to cap welfare benefits and it is revealed that one Peter Fincham, the man behind the “A year with the Queen” programme who left in bad odour after an episode of Her Maj `walking out` of a sequence was exposed as a fake has trousered a £500K  payoff. 

In July there were signs that the economy is on the turn for the better, the IMF tells us that in the UK growth is speeding up and Treasury Minister David Gauke hinted at a marriage tax-break law by the New Year.  Archbishop Justin Cantua , who served for eleven years in the oil industry before taking Holy Orders, swopped Mothers` Unions for Credit Unions and threw down the gauntlet at the Wonga loan company only to find, embarrassingly, that the Church`s own pension fund invests in Wonga. Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of the ultra-expensive Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, recommended, with impeccable timing, that MP`s should receive a pay increase in 2016. The Prime Minister immediately kicked the bottom out of the concept of the Authority`s “independence” by saying, from his vantage point as a man of personal wealth, that such a suggestion was unthinkable. Chancellor Grayling`s proposals to curb the taxpayer`s millions spent in legal aid upon pointless asylum appeals gets the thumbs down from, surprise, surprise, legal aid lawyers specialising in asylum claims. Presumably to compensate Grayling offers lawyers the chance of minor celebrity through the televising of court hearings to enhance “trust in the judicial system”.  The First Minister of Scotland, having attended the Muirfield Open Golf tournament in 1992 and 2002, shunned the male-only club this year. Times and mores have changed. There wasn`t the politically sensitive prospect of a referendum on independence in 1992.  The Privy Council is to decide on the future of a Press Watchdog, delivering the positive outcome of “Two Jags” Prescott`s resignation from the Privy Council.  

Lord Foy of that Persuasion now believes that High Speed Two could be “a costly mistake”. The former Peter Mandelson and Labour Business Secretary says that the project is based upon politics and flawed estimates. And a former member of the British Railways Board, Mr Simon Jenkins, describes HS2 as “The maddest waste of money since Concorde”.  Concorde, of course, is widely regarded as one of the greatest engineering achievements since the time of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The parallel is apt. No ambition, no vision, no engineering.   The beautiful first British Airways A380 Airbus arrives almost silently at Manston in my constituency for a three-month workout (when will Mayor Boris wake up to the fact that we already have airport capacity available in Kent?) but it is not all high flying for aviation. Heathrow is brought to a grinding halt as yet another Boeing Dreamliner makes an emergency halt with suspected fire on board. 

Engineering of a genetic kind takes a step backwards as Monsanto announces its withdrawal from its European GM food programme. Will starving future generations live to rue the hysteria generated by the anti-GM campaigners? I think that they may well do so but by then, of course, we shall have been left still further behind in another global market. In Balcombe, West Sussex, villagers find their anti-fracking protest hijacked by an army of professional protesters.  The Liberal Democrats want Britain to pull out of one quarter of the Trident replacement.  Defence Secretary Hammond points out that three quarters of a deterrent is, without round-the-clock capability, no real deterrent at all.  Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for campaigning for female education and now resident in Britain speaks to the United Nations in New York and is praised for her dignified tenacity.  The sixteenth birthday address by the young lady to whom the Executive of the North South Committee declined to give the Lisbon Prize “because she is too young” has received an “apology” for the shooting from a Taliban leadership conscious of a PR gaffe. A Nobel Prizewinner in the offing? The Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, calls for an end to the Coalition next year, Chris Froome wins the Tour de France and England are set fair to take the Ashes. 

There was also the debut of the Prince of Cambridge.  Asked when she thought that the baby might arrive Her Maj, is reported to have said disarmingly, while visiting a school “I do hope she gets a move on – I`m going on holiday soon”! The Press no doubt concurred. One assumes that the medals celebrating the “Lindo Wing Campaign” will by now have been struck and awarded to those worldwide  snappers who spent three weeks staking out St. Mary`s Hospital, Paddington and then failed to get the shot of Duchess Kate arriving via the back door prior to the birth of her first son. A “breaking News – Not a Clue” award  has to go to “Royal Reporters” Nicholas Witchell and Kate Burley who spent hour after tedious hour talking to visitors from Arkansas and Wagga Wagga  while desperately trying to justify their presence at a venue where from the first of July until  the twenty-second of the month,  absolutely nothing was happening at all.   For the benefit of those who have just returned from Mars or who have recently been released from solitary confinement, Prince George was born at 4.24 pm on Monday the 22nd of July and weighed in at 8lbs 6 oz.  The heaviest royal baby for 100 years sent four hundred and eighty four million tweeters into a frenzy.  The Bourgeois Women` Tabloid devoted the first twenty one pages of Tuesday`s Mail to the event, Harrod`s marketed a commemorative mug for £20 and the official version of a similar product retailed for a modest £195. One Republican-owned national tabloid went so far as to change its masthead to “The Son” (mercifully without claiming  that “It was The Sun Wot Dun It”) and in France that Guardian manqué of the tricoteuses , Le Canard Enchaine, felt compelled to declare acidly that the royal sprog  had conquered Mr. Holland`s homeland without having to take a boat across La Manche. “We Three Kings in Waiting Are.......”.  With Her Maj in wonderfully rude health there may not be many alive today who will witness the coronation of King George V11. 


Ballswatch 
`Elf `n Safety don`t like hanging flower baskets suspended from a bridge over the River Severn in Shropshire. The Bridgenorth Caution Constabulary believe that they might constitute a danger – to passing canoeists. Just don`t try white-water kayaking, son. 

An EU publication for children tells of how “Mr and Mrs MEP” are whisked from their aircraft to the Berlaymont by chauffeured Limo. Driven by Baroness Ashton`s army of five-hundred such personnel presumably. 

Not to be outdone on the `elf front the EU has edicted against Milk of Magnesia. Marketed since 1875 the eurochemists have decided that it contains too much sulphate for human consumption. It`s enough to generate a severe bout of dyspepsia. 

In Crayford, South London, a Sainsbury`s checkout lady had the temerity to decline to serve a customer while the aforesaid was talking on her mobile phone. No prizes for guessing. It was the supermarket chain that climbed down and apologised and not the discourteous shopper. 

An “education enforcement worker” in Bolton has administered a £75 fine to a lady feeding pigeons on the grounds that “the birds are vermin and dropping litter is an offense”.  Try telling that to Lady Gale.  We are told that there is a national shortage of starlings and, if that is so, then I know why: they are all in our garden, along with a lot of pigeons, attracted by Suzy`s nightly largesse. (Corn and bread down in the evening, you see, so that it`s there for the birds to wake up to on light summer mornings.) 

“Giving the game away” award for the Royal Mint?  Weeks before the Prince was born they were striking a royal birth commemorative Crown (or, to be more exact a £5 coin) with St. George on the obverse side. 

We are told that the Board of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, debating Members` future pay and conditions, found it appropriate to ensconce themselves in an Hotel. “An away Day was necessary – we had to meet off site” said a spokesman for the team normally resident at your expense in a multi-million pound office block in Victoria. Rooms at the Selsdon Park cost, at £299 per bed, rather more that the permitted parliamentary nightly expenditure. 

The Salford Broadcasting Corporation has hired Mishal Husain as the “new voice” of Today. This is the same lady to whom, chairing Mastermind, Today presenter John Humphreys once said to the former Washington correspondent  ”did you get the newsreader`s job because you are good looking?” It might be safer if Ms. Husain were to broadcast from Salford but she will apparently be setting the fur flying in “new” Broadcasting House alongside her male colleagues. A nice saucer of milk for Mr. Humphreys? 

The Administration Committee of the House of Commons has given the go-ahead for public weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, birthday parties and the like to be held in the Churchill Dining Room, the Terrace Marquee and the Press snouts-in-the-trough abode, Moncrieff’s, for a handsome fee .  The Commission has drawn the line at the renting of Westminster Hall for parties, however.  Only visiting Heads of State and the Westminster Prayer Breakfast will continue to be afforded the right to use the oldest surviving part of the Royal Palace of Westminster.  Even in these straitened times its comforting to know that some things are still not for sale. 

Former England Cricket Captain David Gower has suggested that “politicians are allergic to grass”.  Britain`s self-appointed Country Gentleman believes that  parliamentary townies should take an exam in Rural Life and should not be allowed to vote upon country matters until they have passed an appropriate test.  Would this be the same nature-savvy scorer who parked his car on a frozen lake in St. Moritz and woke up to find it under the melted ice? 

The RSPCA has had a 70-year old former veterinary surgeon arrested after a tip off that he was ill-treating his own animals.  My colleague Simon Hart, following a “no case to answer” verdict from the police, describes the charity that, for the moment at least, still holds a Royal warrant ,as having “an aggressive political agenda”.  If two RSPCA inspectors, three police officers and two PCSOs seems like an excessive array of force to implement this arrest for a non-crime then bear in mind that the RSPCA needs lots of publicity to raise the money to pay the salary of the Chief Executive, Gavin Grant, who earns – or at least is paid – getting on for half as much again as his predecessor, Mark Watts.  And you thought that you were giving to Animal Welfare. 

The “spare” plinth In Trafalgar Square is currently occupied by a large cockerel which is, of course, the symbol of the country whose navy Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, towering above the wretched bird, knocked about a bit. The saving grace, I suppose, is that at least the feathered offering, like some of the comments surrounding this installation, blue. 

Valete 

Doug Engelbert, “The man behind the mouse” who in 1967 created with a block of wood the template that was, by 1987, to be mass-produced by IBM and handled by hundreds of millions of computer users, has gone to the Great Mousetrap in the Sky. 

Mr. Englebert could well have been interviewed by Alan Whicker who very ancient television viewers may first have seen on Cliff Michelmore`s “Tonight”  in contrasting black and white portrayed in glorious microscope on a minute screen.  At 87 Alan Whicker, the doyen of globetrotting journalists, was still reporting when he, also was recalled to the editing suite. 

And then there was Mel Smith. The star of “Not the Nine o`clock News” and other television programmes died too young. He was the most difficult of all of the people that I found myself required to direct, but his was a comic genius, akin to that of Tony Hancock, comes around once in a generation and I can see them both sitting on a cloud – a dark one – plotting future anarchy and mayhem. 

And finally...................... 

Just when you thought it was all over, it wasn`t. Nelson Mandela has lived to see his ninety-fifth birthday and against the odds is said by his family to be “recovering”. The President of the United States was, he says “humbled” by his visit to the prison where Mandela was held for so many years.  Those who have visited Robben Island, looked out through the bars that screen the window in the tiny “Madiba cell” and seen the lime quarry to which the prisoners were marched daily will know the same feeling. . It is humbling indeed.  There may be people who have had more impact upon humanity but I only know of one. 
 

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