Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3721 Set by Tim Hopkins

We asked for acronyms for today's bunch of TV personalities.

Report by Ms de Meaner

I know we gave you the example of Wearily Obsequious - Guests Advertising Nightly, but then, you didn't need his first name, as his programme was actually called Wogan. So I was only inclined to allow single names if: a) that is their one and only (Lulu), or b) I was in no doubt as to who they are (Cilla, Delia, Kilroy, Paxman). I wasn't happy with those who sent in Black, Lane, Robinson or Smith. And as for Ian Birchall's Mockery Eventually Repulses, Turning Out Nauseous! It turned out to be "Mrs". And I had a completely different Merton in mind. £10 to winners; the bottle goes to John O'Byrne. Oh, and a message to Howard Chessman and Alanna Blake: you both scraped in by a whisker - Vanessa is getting slimmer by the day. You should read the more popular papers.

Ladies, You Note His Artful Moustache?

This Is Totally Challenging: Heavy Manure, Anorexic Roots, Squirting Hoses.

Paradigmatic Anchorman: Xeric, Mordant, Aggressive, Notorious.

Secondhand Collectible; Useless Ludicrous Leftovers. Yawn!

Couples Inventing Lies, Lovable Anecdotes - Bountiful Lust Always Camouflaged. Kitsch.

John O'Byrne

Judged Untimely - Lewd Intimate Advises Nobbled Chancellor Lamont. Apology Received Yet?

Publicity - OK! Special, Hello! Special. Personality Invites Constant Exposure.

Come Inside Love. Learn A Basic Life Art - Cheek Kissing.

Unruly Lover Reprehensible In Kicking Affair.

Amid Loam And Nettles This Indifferently Talented Chap Has Media Agog - Ratings Sky High.

Robert Ireland

People's Avenger: Xenophobes Mangled, Archbishops Needled.

Journalist Of Numinous Seductiveness Nightly Opens Wormcans.

Instinctively Amusing Newshound: His Incredible Sommerville Lookalikeness Occasions Protest.

Know-all Infatuates Ladies Reaching Older Years.

Patently - Although Totally Rational - Inhabits Comet Krypton. Marvellous Odour Of Rampant Eccentricity.

Egomaniac Smartarse Tele-Harpy Engenders Revelations

Anne Du Croz

Curly-Haired And Redheaded Landscaper Is Expensively Deployed In Making Many Old Codgers Kinky.

Mordant Elderly Luvvy's Vociferous Yet Nasal Banter Ruins Artily Generalised Gobbledygook.

Carroty Halfwit Reckons It's Sexy Embarrassing Viewers After Naff Swearing.

Miserable Autocue Reader Kebabs Laddish Amateurs Mockingly And Rather Repulsively.

Creepy Hypemeister Roguishly Inveigles Sundry Test Addicts, Requiring Right Answers Nobody Tumbles.

Will Bellenger

Voluminous Amazon Never Evading Spurious Self-Advertising.

Decorously Endorses Limited Ingredients. Accordingly Supermarkets Make Intercession To Her.

Hopeful Ageing Retiree Voluntarily Encourages Yieldless Jinxed Organisations . . . No Evident Success.

Regularly Occasioning Love For Hospitalised Animals - Recovery Reassures, Involving Sentimentality.

Oh! Please Reveal All Here.

Alanna Blake

Easy Speaker? Teeth Hold Everybody Riveted!

Delicacy Expert Lady In Action.

Foments Revelations On Sunday Telly.

Real Ozzie's Love For Hospitalised Animals Raises Roars In Sydney.

Deemed Excessively Aggressive Yet Takes On Nobody.

Happy In Soliciting Litigation Over Publications.

Eric Swainson

Debonair, Easy Smile, Maidenly Orgasms Nightly Delivered Linkman, Yet Naughty Air Manifest.

Potty Astronomer Televisually Reveals Immense Cosmic Knowledge, Moon-gazing Oracle Or Rabelaisian Eccentric?

Wordgame Humorist Invites Televisual Examination, Leaves Everyone Yawning.

Fat, Execrable, Loathsome Talkshow . . . Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Twattish Interviewer Talks Crap Habitually, Makes Also Rather Soporific Horticulturalist.

Howard Chessman

All Ladies Adore Nature-Tamers; It's The Compost Heap Man Attracting Randy Suburban Housewives.

Combines Ignorant Lovers; Lorra Aching Belly-Laughs At Clueless Kissers.

Raconteur Of Lovable Fluffy Hospitalised Animals. Result: Reviewers In Stitches.

Bearded Idiot Loves Lightweight Ornithological Detours Driving In Europe.

D A Prince

No 3724 Set by Leonora Casement

"Politicians" wrote Richard Ingrams in the Observer, "tend to be pretty weird people with more eccentricities and obsessions than most of us." Could we have a speech by a prominent politician in which he valiantly attempts - and amusingly fails - to hide just these failings. Max 200 words and in by 11 April.


This article first appeared in the 03 April 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Englishness: who cares?

Photo: Getty Images
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David Cameron’s starter homes: poor policy, but good politics

David Cameron's electoral coalition of buy-to-let retirees and dual-earner couples remains intact: for now.

The only working age demographic to do better under the Coalition was dual-earner couples – without children. They were the main beneficiaries of the threshold raise – which may “take the poorest out of tax” in theory but in practice hands a sizeable tax cut to peope earning above average. They will reap the fruits of the government’s Help to Buy ISAs. And, not having children, they were insulated from cuts to child tax credits, reductions in public services, and the rising cost of childcare. (Childcare costs now mean a couple on average income, working full-time, find that the extra earnings from both remaining in work are wiped out by the costs of care)

And they were a vital part of the Conservatives’ electoral coalition. Voters who lived in new housing estates on the edges of seats like Amber Valley and throughout the Midlands overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives.

That’s the political backdrop to David Cameron’s announcement later today to change planning to unlock new housing units – what the government dubs “Starter Homes”. The government will redefine “affordable housing”  to up to £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 and under within it, while reducing the ability of councils to insist on certain types of buildings. He’ll describe it as part of the drive to make the next ten years “the turnaround decade”: years in which people will feel more in control of their lives, more affluent, and more successful.

The end result: a proliferation of one and two bedroom flats and homes, available to the highly-paid: and to that vital component of Cameron’s coalition: the dual-earner, childless couple, particularly in the Midlands, where the housing market is not yet in a state of crisis. (And it's not bad for that other pillar of the Conservative majority: well-heeled pensioners using buy-to-let as a pension plan.)

The policy may well be junk-rated but the politics has a triple A rating: along with affluent retirees, if the Conservatives can keep those dual-earner couples in the Tory column, they will remain in office for the forseeable future.

Just one problem, really: what happens if they decide they want room for kids? Cameron’s “turnaround decade” might end up in entirely the wrong sort of turnaround for Conservative prospects.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.