Man overboard

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Pole Dancing

Many bloggers felt that Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski had gone bonkers this week, after launching into a rant at John Humphries live on the Today programme, in which he blamed the BBC for violence against Polish people in the UK. Virtual Stoa helpfully provides a transcript.

His tirade was described variously as “crackpot,” “bizarre,” and a “joke”. The latter comment came from James Graham, who provided a characteristically thorough analysis of Kawczynski’s comments. He wrote:

“Kawczynski’s speech doesn’t actually cite a single example of what his complaint is, merely assuring his Honourable Friends that “I have undertaken a study of BBC coverage of immigration”

Adding:

“When someone alleges something as grave as this using Parliamentary privilege as a shield yet can’t even come up with a single anecdote, it is only reasonable to view such allegations with contempt.”

There were kinder words from View from Rural Wales, who had an interesting angle on relations with our Polish neighbours:

“Personally, I reckon there would never have been any antipathy towards the Poles if all of our children were taught modern history, and understood the terrible sacrifice made, and incredible bravery shown by the Polish people in the battle to defend all of our freedoms in the Second World War.”

Finally, Kawczynski himself set out his position, with an online excusive for newstatesman.com.

Gilesy in Trouble

Leader of the Tory group in the European Parliament, Giles Chichester, has resigned his post, after revelations that he channelled barrels of taxpayer eurodosh into the family firm. Kerron Cross seized on the news, to highlight what he sees as Conservative hypocrisy:

“I also like the fact that he insisted he had made a "technical" breach of the rules and was acting "in good faith". You will remember from past instances that the Tories like to talk about "institutional sleaze" and "systematic sleaze" that "beggars belief" when Labour figures are caught not declaring funding properly - but when the Tories are caught out it is an "individual error" and a "genuine mistake".”

There was little sympathy for the MEP in his own ranks. Letters from a Tory penned a note to Mr Chichester, advising him that:

“If you are found to be screwing taxpayers and MEP expenses, I hope your political career falls apart and you are thrown to the media lions, never to be seen again in public life.”

The family historian of British politics, Jonathan Calder, took a look at the significance behind his “whoops a-daisy,” and reminded us that Chichester:

“…is the son of Sir Francis Chichester who in 1967, and at the age of 65, became the first man to sail around the world single handed.”

Man overboard!

Across the Pond

The Democratic race is over, and by the end of the year, the United States may have its first black, or rather “post racial” president. America’s progressive blogosphere is abuzz. Blue Hampshire was typically gushing, writing:

“I have great confidence that Sen. Obama will touch the hearts and minds of the children of America and the world just like another former Illinois Senator did for me.”

Elsewhere, it was the mercurial character of Obama’s Republican opponent, John McCain, that was under the spotlight. Alan Bock shares some worrying anecdotes, and frets:

“…if he's consciously repressing his temper he could be even more tightly wound. Or maybe at the age of 71 he's begun to grow out of adolescence. Anyway, it's worth thinking about.”

Video of the Week

We’re in for another long hot summer of Big Brother. In past series, political activists have found their way into the house. Anarchist Kitten Pinder, appeared in series 5, and looked like a marginally healthier Pete Docherty. When evicted, she declared “f*ck the monarchy! F*ck the aristocracy!” – and was derided by the Times as “less radical than Gary Linekar”.

Tory right-winger and hunting enthusiastic Derek Laud popped up in series 6, before securing a place on the BBC’s Question Time on his exit.

Respect (Left List) candidate Carole Vincent popped up in series 8. While a mere 15.4% of Waltham Forest residents picked her as their choice for councillor, a whopping 49% of the people of Britain voted to remove her from their televisions.

So finally, to our video. It was Respect (Renewal) MP George Galloway who will be best remembered, both for his indolence and for his utter lack of dignity. You can re-live the gorgeous one acting like a cat here - though it’s not recommended if you’ve recently eaten.

Quote of the Week

“I first met Kawczynski at a reception for new MPs, where he proudly revealed that he would be going on the Today programme next morning to announce his support for Liam Fox's bid to become the next Tory leader, Michael Howard having lately stepped down.

"We don't know each other, but let me give you a piece of kind advice at the start of your career: don't do that," I replied.

He fearlessly did it anyway and the rest his history. His promotion to the shadow cabinet is still awaited.”

Michael White recalls an encounter with Kawczynski.

Paul Evans is a freelance journalist, and formerly worked for an MP. He lives in London, but maintains his Somerset roots by drinking cider.