In a spat with Jan Moir, Katherine Jenkins stays classy

The singer responds to Jan Moir’s accusation that she was “stealing the limelight” by running the London Marathon.


Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir wrote about the singer Katherine Jenkins today, effectively accusing her of the heinous crime of “looking nice while running a marathon”.

Moir wrote:

Among all the runners at the start of the race on Sunday, 32-year-old Katherine was uniquely red carpet magnifico. Her biscuity maquillage was flawless. Hosed on, as they say in the trade. The building trade.

She had lashings of pink lip gloss, sooty false eyelashes and sweeping, coal black eyeliner. Not to mention a perfect silvery manicure, those ever-tanned limbs, her blonde hair pulled back into an immaculate ponytail and raisin-sized diamonds in her ears.

At points during the race she would pop on a pair of £200 Prada sunglasses just to add to her athletic mystique. Perhaps the only miracle was that she didn’t run backwards, in high heels, while singing the Welsh national anthem at the top of her voice.

Apparently, Jenkins “simply can’t help stealing the limelight”, even while raising money for charity.

Not particularly notable in itself, but Jenkins’ response to the column was a supreme example of someone determinedly taking the high road. She posted via Twitter:

I ran on Sunday in memory of my father & to raise money (£25,000) for an excellent charity (@macmillancancer) who helped him when he was dying. Yes, I twittered about it but I did so to share my progress & day with those kind people on twitter who had supported & sponsored me. I ran in sunglasses because it was sunny. I tied my hair back in a pony tail because I expected to sweat. As if you had some insider knowledge you wrote I was wearing eye shadow, eye liner& lip gloss. Wrong again - none of the above - I had Vaseline on my lips, handed to us by St Johns Ambulance on our way round the route.

You can read her full statement here. Bravo, Katherine Jenkins. 

Katherine Jenkins (not running a marathon). Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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I'm far from convinced by Cameron's plans for Syria

The Prime Minister has a plan for when the bombs drop. But what about after?

In the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister set out a powerful case for Britain to join air strikes against Isil in Syria.  Isil, he argued, poses a direct threat to Britain and its people, and Britain should not be in the business of “outsourcing our security to our allies”. And while he conceded that further airstrikes alone would not be sufficient to beat Isil, he made the case for an “Isil first” strategy – attacking Isil now, while continuing to do what we can diplomatically to help secure a lasting settlement for Syria in which Assad (eventually) plays no part.

I agreed with much of David Cameron’s analysis. And no-one should doubt either the murderous barbarism of Isil in the region, or the barbarism they foment and inspire in others across the world.  But at the end of his lengthy Q&A session with MPs, I remained unconvinced that UK involvement in airstrikes in Syria was the right option. Because the case for action has to be a case for action that has a chance of succeeding.  And David Cameron’s case contained neither a plan for winning the war, nor a plan for winning the peace.

The Prime Minister, along with military experts and analysts across the world, concedes that air strikes alone will not defeat Isil, and that (as in Iraq) ground forces are essential if we want to rid Syria of Isil. But what is the plan to assemble these ground forces so necessary for a successful mission?  David Cameron’s answer today was more a hope than a plan. He referred to “70,000 Syrian opposition fighters - principally the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – with whom we can co-ordinate attacks on Isil”.

But it is an illusion to think that these fighters can provide the ground forces needed to complement aerial bombardment of Isil.  Many commentators have begun to doubt whether the FSA continues to exist as a coherent operational entity over the past few months. Coralling the myriad rebel groups into a disciplined force capable of fighting and occupying Isil territory is a heroic ambition, not a plan. And previous efforts to mobilize the rebels against Isil have been utter failures. Last month the Americans abandoned a $500m programme to train and turn 5,400 rebel fighters into a disciplined force to fight Isil. They succeeded in training just 60 fighters. And there have been incidents of American-trained fighters giving some of their US-provided equipment to the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Why has it proven so hard to co-opt rebel forces in the fight against Isil? Because most of the various rebel groups are fighting a war against Assad, not against Isil.  Syria’s civil war is gruesome and complex, but it is fundamentally a Civil War between Assad’s forces and a variety of opponents of Assad’s regime. It would be a mistake for Britain to base a case for military action against Isil on the hope that thousands of disparate rebel forces can be persuaded to change their enemy – especially when the evidence so far is that they won’t.

This is a plan for military action that, at present, looks highly unlikely to succeed.  But what of the plan for peace? David Cameron today argued for the separation of the immediate task at hand - to strike against Isil in Syria – from the longer-term ambition of achieving a settlement in Syria and removing Assad.  But for Isil to be beaten, the two cannot be separated. Because it is only by making progress in developing a credible and internationally-backed plan for a post-Assad Syria that we will persuade Syrian Sunnis that fighting Isil will not end up helping Assad win the Civil War.  If we want not only to rely on rebel Sunnis to provide ground troops against Isil, but also provide stable governance in Isil-occupied areas when the bombing stops, progress on a settlement to Syria’s Civil War is more not less urgent.  Without it, the reluctance of Syrian Sunnis to think that our fight is their fight will undermine the chances of military efforts to beat Isil and bring basic order to the regions they control. 

This points us towards doubling down on the progress that has already been made in Vienna: working with the USA, France, Syria’s neighbours and the Gulf states, as well as Russia and Iran. We need not just a combined approach to ending the conflict, but the prospect of a post-war Syria that offers a place for those whose cooperation we seek to defeat Isil. No doubt this will strike some as insufficient in the face of the horrors perpetrated by Isil. But I fear that if we want not just to take action against Isil but to defeat them and prevent their return, it offers a better chance of succeeding than David Cameron’s proposal today. 

Stewart Wood is a former Shadow Cabinet minister and adviser to Ed Miliband. He tweets as @StewartWood.