Goldsmith to the right of me, Goldsmith to the left of me, Goldsmith’s in front of me, I marched into the interview…

The interview was the strangest I have ever had, which would you pick The Guardian, The Telegraph or The Morning Star...?

All this discussion of Zac Goldsmith, and his apparent lack of desire to pay the UK Taxman and Lord Goldsmith and his apparent uncertainty as to the legality of the war in Iraq, has reminded me of my visit to Goldsmith’s College 20 years ago.

It was my second choice University, but as I was very keen to study History in London I arrived at the interview in good time.

I was taken by a very large lady to a chair, placed outside the office of the Professor I was due to see for my interview.

After about 10 minutes the previous person, as I thought, came out of the interview room and said that I should go in.

Behind the desk all I could see was a copy of The Times and a rising plume of pipe smoke coming up from behind it.  Thinking this would end fairly soon I just waited patiently.

After a few more minutes of pipe smoke and page turning I noticed that there were three newspapers neatly place, pointing at the candidate’s chair.  They were The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Morning Star.

I divined after a few more minutes that the Professor behind the paper was not intending to stop reading his paper so I decided to pick up one of the newspapers sitting in front of me.

Having never seen a copy, let alone read a copy, of the The Morning Star before I picked it up and started reading. 

After a few seconds at last came the first evidence that the man on the other side of the table even recognised my existence.  He grunted, ‘why did you pick that one?’

I responded with the answer that I had never seen it before, let alone read it so I thought I would take the opportunity.

‘Hmmm,’ he said, ‘we’ll offer you two Cs, will that be OK?’ I responded it would and for the next 30 minutes we just chatted about politics, and why I had joined the SDP, not the Liberal Party.

As I didn’t take the place up I never discovered what the offer would have been if I had taken The Guardian or The Telegraph.


Military support for BBC’s Top Gear came to 141 days in 5 years – surely it’s just good product placement?

The MoD has been criticised for using military personnel in the making of Top Gear - it's just good publicity!

The MoD has apparently been criticised for the 141 equivalent days it has given to BBC’s Top Gear programme in the past five years.

But, I can’t but think that this is extremely good product placement by our military. I am guessing but I suspect that the viewers are predominantly male and younger than average, which is surely the target audience for the services. It has hardly been to the detriment of the military the coverage they have received and, if anything, enhances the kudos of military service, and encourages recruitment.

Just the events that The Guardian lists tell you that this is great, low cost, advertising for the MoD;

  • Apache helicopter attempting missile lock on a Lotus Exige
  • Challenger Tank tries to catch Jeremy Clarkson in a Land Rover
  • Avoiding sniper fire in a Porsche and a Mercedes
  • Racing a Porsche Cayenne against a parachutist
  • Twice using HMS Ark Royal as a back drop
  • Beach assault with Royal Marines and a Ford Fiesta
  • Racing the Bugatti Veyron against an RAF Typhoon fighter
  • Playing ‘British Bulldogs’ against modern army vehicles

Now this might all seem to be a bit boys with toys, on the part of the Top Gear team, and I would not demure from this, but this is excellent product placement by the MoD, and should be seen as such.

According to the MoD if they had wanted to advertise on ITV it would have cost them £50,000 for every thirty seconds.

In a statement the MoD said: “The Top Gear filming took place during scheduled training hours. In no circumstances were resources diverted from other activities to support this filming. It is common for the media to cover military training exercises.

“Showcasing our people and equipment on popular television programmes is an excellent way to raise public awareness about the work of the armed forces and to encourage support for our troops.”

Quite right.

Is the Compass pointing Gordon Brown to the exit?

Gordon Brown may face yet more discussion about his leadership in the next few weeks...

The political thinktank Compass may be about to deal Gordon Brown a knock out blow to try and unseat him as Labour Leader.

Generally the rule would appear to be that if there is an ‘r’ in the month then there is talk of a coup against the Prime Minister, but this time The Guardian would have us believe that this is a prospect not to be ignored.

David Miliband’s decision not to decamp to Europe might also be a factor in the thought process that perhaps things are not as bad as they might be and perhaps, with a quick game of musical chairs in Downing Street, Labour might be able to stand a chance at the election.

The Guardian argues that; ‘A dialogue has begun within Compass and some central figures argue that other candidates such as home secretary Alan Johnson and foreign secretary David Miliband may support centre-left policies that the group wants Labour to back.’

A spokesman for Compass confirmed that a majority of the management committee of the thinktank thought Gordon Brown should go before the election, to give the party a better chance of success when the election comes.

The timetable, being discussed, is that a leadership contest would follow the pre-budget report with a new leader being in place by early January.

Like all the other putative leadership contests it seems clear that it will probably fizzle out, but the fact that the moderately loyal Compass is moving against the Prime Minister, when it resisted moves in the summer, may be significant.

SNP braced for poll drubbing in Glasgow North East – The Guardian

SNP David Kerr

The SNP's David Kerr looks set for a heavy defeat tomorrow!

Ahead of tomorrow’s by-election in Glasgow North East it appears that the SNP is already conceding defeat, if The Guardian is anything to go by.

Alex Salmond’s comment that; ‘The ground is shifting substantially towards us.’ But, importantly, according to The Guardian, fell a long way short of his usual pre-poll enthusiasm and hyperbole, no doubt stung by the dreadful result they suffered in Glenrothes.

SNP candidate, David Kerr said; “We recognise going into polling day that we’re behind,” he said. “We recognise we’re probably 2-1 down with 20 minutes to go. We have a chance going into polling day. Hopefully we have a good chance.”

Hardly the words of a winner to be!