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20 October 2008updated 17 Jan 2024 6:20am

Mandy in the cold

Chatter about migration, giant hedgehogs and how Mandelson felt the chill in Russia, this week in th

By Paul Evans

Thinking cap?

As Home Office minister Phil Woolas declared new caps on the number of migrants allowed to enter the UK, keyboards began furiously tapping. Iain Dale was quick to jibe at what he saw as an appropriation of recent Tory thinking, in a post sardonically entitled ‘It’s not racist to talk about Phil Woolas’.

Liberal Democrat blog Moments of Clarity was angered by the implications behind Woolas’ statement and argued that “the notion that this is ‘inspired by the fight against racism’ is complete hokum because it clearly says that by implication immigration is somehow to blame (why else reduce it?)”.

He went on to write that his party should debunk the suggestion that unemployment and migration are intrinsically linked, adding that: “it will be unpopular but it is the right thing for a progressive party to champion”.

Others were similarly unimpressed by this development, and the European Left Forum blog was not alone in condemning what it regards as “Woolas’ dog-whistle borderline racism”.

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Elsewhere, a young conservative named Sam Tarran was feeling bullish, and wrote that: “[n]o one yet seems prepared to admit that the real problem with immigration is a cultural one. That’s because all of them, Labour or Conservative, believe it is an “electoral liability”.”

Sam’s blog carries a rather ugly picture of a scowling bulldog and a quote from Enoch Powell, which perhaps gives some sense of his political instincts.

Salt of the Perth

Angrily shaking his signal-free mobile phone, a BBC journalist at the Scottish National Party conference barked: “this is no place for a 21st century party to be”. But Perth was quite the right place for the SNP; small enough to retain intimacy, but big enough to get a curry.

While the party leadership focused its fire on Brown’s economic record, pledging tax relief to support ailing small businesses, booze was also making the news.

As the Scottish government’s plans to ban under 21s from picking up drink at off-licenses were debated, SNP candidate Julie Hepburn refuted reports that Young Scots for Independence (who, bless them, were selling cup cakes to raise funds) were proving a disruptive influence on an otherwise united conference, writing:

“To suggest that the YSI have somehow set out to hijack this debate at Conference does them and the SNP a disservice.”

Elsewhere, frippery abounded. The party’s new tartan was unveiled, and pictures of giant hedgehogs filled the nationalist blogs.

What have we learned this week?

We discover that Benjamin Wegg Prosser, now living in Russia, recently hosted Peter Mandelson in his dacha. They tried to go for a walk, but it was too cold for them to venture far…

Across the Pond

Taking a break from the campaign trail, Obama and McCain spent an evening making funny at the Alfred E. Smith memorial foundation dinner, a catholic fundraising. Both candidates delivered comedy routines, which can be seen on The Comic’s Comic. The New York Timespolitics blog gives an account of the evening, which apparently had the audience “in stitches”.

Videos of the Week

Some great contributions from readers lately – but this week we have offerings from Canada that put Britain to shame. Shame! During Canada’s recent elections FemTV gave us this fruity satire, featuring Wonder Tory, Liberal Lady and New Democratic Princess.

Quote of the Week

“This is dangerous, unsustainable rhetoric, and it’s precisely what the immigration debate doesn’t need from Government Ministers.”

Owen on the TUC Touchstone blog.

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