Thursday, July 31, 2008


The next Prime Minister: James Purnell

If David Miliband really wanted to be the next Prime Minister, the last thing he would do would be to raise his profile and the heckles of others in the way he's done in the last few days. I mean, it's not as if he isn't an obvious candidate anyway. Yet even if he'd needed to raise his profile, he couldn't have done it in a more damaging way than to be seen as the one wielding the knife. For a man as clever and experienced in the machinations of backroom politics as he, the only conclusion can be that he simply doesn't want the job. But if that were all then he could just say so. What's interesting is the way he's gone about not getting the job. A suicide mission that one can only conclude is aimed at taking the heat for someone else. In short, he is a stalking horse.

So who is that other candidate? Step forward James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Miliband's closest friend in the Cabinet and fellow Arsenal fan. Unlike Miliband and any of his fellow ministers, he's got what both Blair and Cameron have in spades: the ability not to seem like a politician. As for the leadership, he has so far played it immaculately. Assiduous in keeping a low profile and then when his name was mooted recently 'friends of his' were quoted as saying that he would 'not stand against' Miliband. But note the careful wording. This does not rule out standing if Miliband didn't throw his hat into the ring. Whilst the others have been puffing up their egos, James Purnell has been quietly positioning himself as the only one who can take on David Cameron on his own turf. We've seen this both in his recent social security proposals and also a speech in which he dissected the Tories' success.

The odds on James Purnell are currently around 7-1. They were probably similar for Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron at the same stage of their own leadership campaigns. So. watch this space. Purnell for Prime Minister and Miliband for Chancellor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Secret of greatest student prank revealed

After 50 years the secret of the most ingenius student prank ever has been revealed by the Mail.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why Politicians Should Surf

Here's the transcript from part of the conversation between Barack Obama and David Cameron the other day:

CAMERON: You should be on the beach. You need a break. Well, you need to be able to keep your head together.
OBAMA: You’ve got to refresh yourself.
CAMERON: Do you have a break at all?
OBAMA: I have not. I am going to take a week in August. But I agree with you that somebody, somebody who had worked in the White House who — not Clinton himself, but somebody who had been close to the process — said that, should we be successful, that actually the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking. And the biggest mistake that a lot of these folks make is just feeling as if you have to be …
CAMERON: These guys just chalk your diary up.
OBAMA: Right. … In 15 minute increments and …
CAMERON: We call it the dentist waiting room. You have to scrap that because you’ve got to have time.
OBAMA: And, well, and you start making mistakes or you lose the big picture. Or you lose a sense of, I think you lose a feel …
CAMERON: Your feeling. And that is exactly what politics is all about. The judgment you bring to make decisions.
OBAMA: That’s exactly right. And the truth is that we’ve got a bunch of smart people, I think, who know 10 times more than we do about the specifics of the topics. And so if what you’re trying to do is micromanage and solve everything then you end up being a dilettante, but you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the choices that are presented to you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Photo exhibition

Check out some beautiful pictures from photographer Ross Mackenzie at his exhibition here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Surfing last Wednesday

With thanks to photographer Sean Kenny for taking this and posting it on Magic Seaweed.