Will Cheryl Cole return to British X-Factor? We need to know

Thank heavens for the broadsheets, asking the questions to which the British public needs answers.

Cheryl Cole, our dimple-cheeked Queen of Talent Show Hearts, has been dumped. Dumped, I tell you. And a nation mourns. Our transatlantic cousins, we are told, struggle to get their ears around her Geordie diphthongs, and fail to see the attraction of the Cornetto-legged former Girls Aloud warbler.

First, they threw away our tea – now, they throw away our talent show judges! How could the Yanks reject our big-haired Princess of Pop? How could they? How could they eschew the breezy charm of the nation's favourite much-misunderstood songstress?

Well, this means war. No more shirtsleeve barbecues for our great leaders. No more speeches from Barack Obama of such great historical resonance that they cause Ken Clarke to drift into a gentle slumber. (Though, to be fair to him, it wasn't "classic" sleep, where one goes to bed in pyjamas and a nightcap, and therefore shouldn't really be considered sleep at all.) No. We are now at war with the United States. This is Colegate. This is serious.

You might say to me, "Oh come now, Baxter, you and your so-called words in your so-called blog, what are you on about? This isn't a serious business, is it? This isn't worthy of discussion." You might be one of those people who decides that certain subjects are not fit to be talked about beneath certain mastheads, deeming them somehow low culture and unworthy of inspection.

But I am not alone in recognising the seriousness of this event, the magnitude of Ms Cole's ejection from the US X-Factor, the true enormity of the tossing aside of this once-great talent of our fair shores by those ignorant folks on the other side of the Pond.

As ever, the broadsheets take apart the real issues of the day, wondering if she should return to the British X Factor as a nation comes to terms with its grief. But we have moved from denial to anger swiftly, and the highbrow news outlets want to howl over the corpse of Cole's Stateside career. This isn't just a story for Daybreak viewers, but Radio 4 listeners. This is a big deal.

Catherine Gee in the Telegraph wondered: "How could the Americans do this to our national heroine? Was it her hair (too large)? Her voice (too Geordie)? Her personality (too boring)?" Stuart Heritage in the Guardian had similar fears: "Maybe it was the accent, maybe it was the colossal hair, maybe it was the time she wore a dress that was quite similar to Paula Abdul's."

The Independent's Adam Sherwin pointed the finger at Simon Cowell, saying: "When the ruthless music mogul decides the show must go on, but without one of his star protégés, the end is usually swift." But the BBC's Fiona Bailey added a sinister note to proceedings: "As the news spreads across the pond, back home in the UK, some fans are wondering whether her role on the show was a glorified PR stunt."

Rejoice, rejoice!

A PR stunt, you say? Good God. Next you'll be telling me that Denmark hasn't banned Marmite, despite all the acres of newsprint devoted to Denmark having apparently banned Marmite earlier this week, which entirely coincidentally gave a shedload of free publicity to the yeast spread.

Would Simon Cowell really be that sly? Would Cheryl – our Cheryl, the harem-panted angel of our hearts – really be willing to be part of such subterfuge, or is she just a pawn in Cowell's devious masterplan? Oh, Cheryl. Are you merely a tiny cog in Uncle Simon's big machine, or are you his cackling sidekick? We must know. We have to know.

Of course, you see what's happened here. I started off with every intention of avoiding the "why did Cheryl Cole get dumped by America, you heartless brutes?" article, and snidely making fun of people who churned out such pieces for the broadsheets, as if I am somehow better than them even though I'm considerably less successful than they are, yet I've ended up doing it myself. I could try and climb on to a high horse and say that news should just be about Libya or Ratko Mladic, but I know that's not sensible – I'm just as interested in this as everyone else.

So what's my theory? Do I adopt the tinfoil hat and see Cowell twirling his villainous moustache? No, I don't think so. Some people just don't travel well. It's probably not the accent, or the hair, or the dimples, or anything like that; she's just not famous enough, or popular enough, to be as well liked over there as she is here.

Sad, but their loss is our gain. We get to have our Cheryl back. The tabloids (and the broadsheets) rejoice.

Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media
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Westminster terror: Parliament hit by deadly attack

The Met Police is treating the events in Westminster as a "terrorist incident". 

A terrorist attack outside Parliament in Westminster has left four dead, plus the attacker, and injured at least 40 others. 

Police shot dead a man who attacked officers in front of the parliament building in London, after a grey 4x4 mowed down more than a dozen people on Westminster Bridge.

At least two people died on the bridge, and a number of others were seriously hurt, according to the BBC. The victims are understood to include a group of French teenagers. 

Journalists at the scene saw a police officer being stabbed outside Parliament, who was later confirmed to have died. His name was confirmed late on Wednesday night as Keith Palmer, 48.

The assailant was shot by other officers, and is also dead. The Met Police confirmed they are treating the events as a "terrorist incident". There was one assailant, whose identity is known to the police but has not yet been released. 

Theresa May gave a statement outside Number 10 after chairing a COBRA committee. "The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our Capital City, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech," she said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has tweeted his thanks for the "tremendous bravery" of the emergency services. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also released a short statement. He said: "Reports suggest the ongoing incident in Westminster this afternoon is extremely serious. Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific attack, their families and friends. The police and security staff have taken swift action to ensure the safety of the public, MPs and staff, and we are grateful to them."

After the incident this afternoon, journalists shared footage of injured people in the street, and pictures of a car which crashed into the railings outside Big Ben. After the shots rang out, Parliament was placed under lockdown, with the main rooms including the Commons Chamber and the tearoom sealed off. The streets around Parliament were also cordoned off and Westminster Tube station was closed. 

Those caught up in the incident include visitors to Parliament, such as schoolchildren, who spent the afternoon trapped alongside politicians and political journalists. Hours after the incident, the security services began evacuating MPs and others trapped inside Parliament in small groups. 

The MP Richard Benyon tweeted: "We are locked in Chamber of House of Commons." Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner tweeted: "I'm inside Parliament and me and my staff are safe."

The MP Jo Stevens was one of the first to confirm reports that a police officer had been attacked. She tweeted: "We've just been told a police officer here has been stabbed & the assailant shot."

George Eaton, the New Statesman politics editor, was in the building. He has written about his experience here:

From the window of the parliamentary Press Gallery, I have just seen police shoot a man who charged at officers while carrying what appeared to be a knife. A large crowd was seen fleeing the man before he entered the parliamentary estate. After several officers evaded him he was swiftly shot by armed police. Ministers have been evacuated and journalists ordered to remain at their desks.   

According to The Telegraph, foreign minister Tobias Ellwood, a former soldier, tried to resucitate the police officer who later died. Meanwhile another MP, Mary Creagh, who was going into Westminster to vote, managed to persuade the Westminster tube staff to shut down the station and prevent tourists from wandering on to the scene of the attack. 

A helicopter, ambulances and paramedics soon crowded the scene. There were reports of many badly injured victims. However, one woman was pulled from the River Thames alive.

MPs trapped inside the building shared messages of sympathy for the victims on Westminster Bridge, and in defence of democracy. The Labour MP Jon Trickett has tweeted that "democracy will not be intimidated". MPs in the Chamber stood up to witness the removal of the mace, the symbol of Parliamentary democracy, which symbolises that Parliament is adjourned. 

Brendan Cox, the widower of the late, murdered MP Jo Cox, has tweeted: "Whoever has attacked our parliament for whatever motive will not succeed in dividing us. All of my thoughts with those injured."

Hillary Benn, the Labour MP, has released a video from inside Parliament conveying a message from MPs to the families of the victims.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has also expressed his sympathy. 

While many MPs praised the security services, they also seemed stunned by the surreal scenes inside Parliament, where counter-terrorism police led evacuations. 

Those trapped inside Parliament included 40 children visiting on a school trip, and a group of boxers, according to the Press Association's Laura Harding. The teachers tried to distract the children by leading them in song and giving them lessons about Parliament. 

In Scotland, the debate over whether to have a second independence referendum initially continued, despite the news, amid bolstered security. After pressure from Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, the session was later suspended. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that her "thoughts are with everyone in and around Westminster". The Welsh Assembly also suspended proceedings. 

A spokesman for New Scotland Yard, the police headquarters, said: "There is an ongoing investigation led by the counter-terrorism command and we would ask anybody who has images or film of the incident to pass it onto police. We know there are a number of casualties, including police officers, but at this stage we cannot confirm numbers or the nature of these injuries."

Three students from a high school from Concarneau, Britanny, were among the people hurt on the bridge, according to French local newspaper Le Telegramme (translated by my colleague Pauline). They were walking when the car hit them, and are understood to be in a critical condition. 

The French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also tweeted his solidarity with the UK and the victims, saying: "Solidarity with our British friends, terribly hit, our full support to the French high schoolers who are hurt, to their families and schoolmates."

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.