Trouble at the Home Office

This week John Reid struggles with prison overcrowding and the debate on adoption by gay couples con

It was never going to be a quiet week for the Home Secretary, John Reid, after his announcement that the Home Office may have to be split into two separate departments. Three days later Mr Reid issued a plea to Britain’s legal chiefs to jail only the most serious offenders as Ellee Seymour detailed.

With news of a Judge in Wales giving only a suspended sentence to a man who downloaded child pornography to his computer, people are questioning just where the line can be drawn with the most dangerous and persistent criminals under Mr Reid’s new recommendations. Mr Eugenides says this is a case of the “government's monumental, almost unbelievable, incompetence.” Prisons are crowded – true. But too crowded for such a criminal? Answers on a postcard please (the comments link below will do).

Bloggers will never again be thought of in the same way after one was paid by Microsoft this week to “correct” their entry on Wikipedia, according to Dizzy. Microsoft said it had approached Rick Jelliffe and agreed to pay him but they had never paid anyone before to do this.

Credit also has to be given to Guido for publishing a story from David Cameron’s website two days before most of the Sunday papers caught up with it. Mr Cameron gave an unequivocal “no” to a general legalisation of cannabis but left the way open for it to be legalised for medical purposes.

Certainly little credit can go to Harriet Harman’s blog as she doesn’t seem to understand the need for regular posting. Two posts in a week just isn’t up to the job.

Regular as usual was Iain Dale who is drawing many similarities between Labour’s current cash for honours scandal and Nixon’s Watergate scandal. This comes as it is alleged that Labour officials have secretly deleted emails from a hidden computer system in an effort to try and destroy evidence. No doubt this will continue to rustle the feathers of many-a-blogger in the coming week.

And I leave you with some of the best blogs on the debate over gay couples and adoption. The Catholic church have been very explicit this week where they stand on this drawing in criticism from across the board. The Istanbul Tory said: “In truth, the Cabinet is hopelessly split over the issue of new equality laws.” And at Love and Liberty there was no beating around the bush. Alex Wilcock said: “after centuries of taking pot-shots at each other (often literally), the Catholic Church and the Church of England have found common ground: persecuting gay people and children.”

Adam Haigh studies on the postgraduate journalism diploma at Cardiff University. Last year he lived in Honduras and worked freelance for the newspaper, Honduras This Week.
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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism