Sarah Palin and the LL Cool J saga

Real American Stories airs tonight!

The furore around Sarah Palin's new Fox vehicle, Real American Stories, has been well documented. Is LL Cool J in or out? Are any of the interviews real? Is it all a bit ironic that the show's title is Real American Stories?

But has anyone checked out the show's own website? Please do so here.

There are many wonderful things about this promotional vehicle. So I'm going to pick my top three.

1. The Palin introductory video. There's so much here -- the filmic soundtrack, the first line ("As Americans, we aspire to greatness." Really? All of you? How exhausting), the strange moment when she's talking about entrepreneurialism and a guy selling beetroot (?) pulls a funny face. But above all that there's a brilliant, brief moment of synchrony between words and pictures as Palin says "our love of country" and the film cuts to a shot of soldiers firing machine-guns as they pound through an unidentified desert war. It's one way of expressing the love, I suppose.

2. Chase Lucas. One of the videos submitted to Fox and hosted on the site. Wow. This is one patriotic child.

3. The comments. I can't believe they meant to leave the comment thread so enticingly open beneath the Palin film. A choice extract: "Biggest waste of television ever." To counterbalance: "You liberals are pathetic." Yup, there's some pretty hectic debate going on over there . . .

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.