Sexy MPs and a bunch of Charlies

The Prince of Wales' address to the European Parliament has set keyboards alight this week, while li

As Prince Charles used his address to the European Parliament to outline the need to act on climate change, it was interesting to note the differing views bloggers took depending on their political allegiance.

The Lib Dems concerned themselves with the content of the speech. Wit and Wisdom picks up with the military lexicon used: “The use of such language seems to be missing a trick, as any politician with a few years under their belts should know, not to mention being ever so slightly dismissive of the numerous wars which are going on around the world, killing, maiming and generally causing misery to millions every year. So why are we still resorting to such ludicrous exaggeration?”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives seemed more distracted by the choice of venue – and the speaker’s seeming endorsement of the EU – than the speech’s content. So strong is The Huntsman’s views, in fact, that he writes: “It would be far better if, in future, His Royal Highness, avoided such partisanship if he wishes there to be a future for the House of Windsor. If he is not able to do so and he continues to express his approbation for the EU this monarchist will, reluctantly, become a republican.”

UKIP’s refusal to stand at the end of the Prince’s speech led Nich Starling to ponder in what direction the party is moving. He writes: “Given that Galloway’s ‘Respect’ is falling apart, perhaps UKIP could become ‘Lack of Respect’.”

As Valentine’s day came along, Sky News produced its annual most fanciable MPs list, whose winners were described thus: “In at the top, a new entry – the shadow culture secretary Jeremy ‘always on the’ Hunt. No sign of his opposite number, Andy ‘so hot I’ Burnham, much to the chagrin of certain colleagues in the Sky office.”

Iain Dale goes one better, assessing the most fanciable political hacks. Cathy Newman of Channel4 comes top, with the NS represented by Kevin McGuire in 20th place.

Finally, as NS editor John Kampfner steps down, Iain Dale is moved to write the following words: “It’s a real shame as the magazine under Kampfner’s editorship has experienced something of a revival. The redesign has been popular and circulation has increased.”

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.