Yes we May

“I have your children. If you want them to have any stake in the future, you’ll withdraw from the leadership race.”

main-leadsomThat’s the message that Andrea Leadsom received from Theresa May last Monday morning.

This formed the endgame of a barmy Tory leadership ‘election’ filled with ludicrous twists and unexpected turns.

First there was Boris’ trolling: gathering all the nation’s top political journalists into a room to launch his campaign, only to tell them, “Lol I’m not running.” As one commentator said on Twitter: “Boris Johnson has withdrawn. Well, there’s a first time for everything.”

People were quite angry at this, though. Boris led the Leave campaign. He got the country into an almighty mess, without any clear plan as to how to fix it, and then waltzed the scene altogether leaving others to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences. For more on the Chilcot report into Tony Blair’s lack of post-Iraq planning, visit www.iraqinquiry.org.uk

DSCN1122At the first stage of the election proper, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox (pictured left) dropped out of the race, which is a shame because I would have quite enjoyed it if the remainder of the campaign had fundamentally been an Aesop’s fable.

At the second stage Michael Gove was eliminated:

And thus the scene was set for Leadsom v May, an opportunity for us to soak up the relatively unknown Leadsom’s views on homosexuality and workplace rights (clearly being a mother gives her such an edge that she wants to deprive others of the opportunity by abolishing maternity pay), and a grossly patronising “recipe for a perfect British society” which appears on her blog:

A Tory mum’s recipe for a perfect British society
Take one cup of Anglo Saxon determination;
Mix with a jugful of Muslim respect for the family;
Stir in a pinch of traditional Asian modesty;
Whisk with two tablespoonsful of military respect for authority;
Serve on a bed of East European work ethic;
And enjoy with a full glass of British belief in the freedom of the individual!

She said that she’d been hounded out of the Conservative leadership race by “dirty tricks” and unreasonable online abuse.

Bless.

And now we look forward to the Age of May…

…with David Davis, her new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (or SEE-U)…

…and, oh, yes, Boris, the only foreign minister in the Western world who can’t successfully make it to Belgium without accidentally shutting down an airport and mobilising five fire engines.

But more importantly: Theresa May is in my ears and in my eyes:


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Sussexspending

sussex-foiReaders may remember that the Information Tribunal ruled against Sussex in March, and ordered the university to reconsider my request, which asked how much they had spent on legal fees in a previous case I sparked (and which they partly lost and partly admitted their own failures). The judge was quite scathing, and her abject humiliation of Sussex resulted in university staff labelling me “a name to strike fear”.

Rather cheekily, they reconsidered my request and Head of Information Management Alexandra Elliott decided to refuse it a second time.

The wallpaper in the Vice-Chancellor's office

The wallpaper in the Vice-Chancellor’s office

But the Information Commissioner disagreed, and now, 16 months after my original request, they’ve provided an answer.

The previous case about which I asked saw the university arguing that answering a freedom of information request would cause them commercial losses. But how much did they spend arguing this? Now we know:

£9,240

Absolute bloody bargain.

Why did Constantinople get the works?

It’s been a very busy period since we last spoke, even if we don’t count British politics. We’ve had an evil terrorist attack in Israel and a “nice terrorist attack” in France. But most intriguingly, following a highly dramatic attempted coup in Turkey – almost a stereotyped coup, involving, as it did, all the key hallmarks of coups including bridge closures, low-flying jets, kidnapped army officers and more – our new Foreign Secretary convened a crisis meeting of COBRA, the top-secret emergency council which comes together in the basement of Downing Street when the going gets tough.

It was attended by a wide range of luminaries from:

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the intelligence agencies, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Department for Transport. The ambassador and embassy staff in Ankara also joined by video link.

And what conclusion did these internationally renowned experts reach? It was very profound: according to the press release published after the meeting:

Officials agreed that we should monitor the situation on the ground closely over the coming days.

Great that we’re in such safe hands.

Labour

Let’s not forget Labour. Our credible opposition party is still ably opposing the government. Take this incisive question that Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott MP put to the government last month:

diane-abbot-pqWhich was answered by the Secretary of State for International Development as follows:

diane-abbot-pq-answerBut now the Eagle has landed so everything’s going to change for the better. Right?

1 down

b2872a040a5c12a734a7d759a4cc0b82[1]A 91-year-old pensioner from Nuremberg is facing prosecution after completing a crossword puzzle in an art gallery, only later to discover that it was a £67,000 piece of installation art which she’d just ruined.

Gabrielquotes has decided to provide its own topical crossword below – but be warned, I’m not going to warn you about whether or not it’s also worth a five-figure sum.

49669xkqmd[1]Across
4. A cold child’s bed which took seven years
5. What John Whittingdale likes
7. Number of months it took Sussex University to answer a Freedom of Information request
8. Bloody disaster
9. What John Whittingdale likes
10. Sussex’s Vice-Chancellor [spent 8,870,400 of these pursuing legal proceedings against me]

Down
1. Who respects their family most?
2. The main quality Asians bring to the UK
3. Bloody disaster
6. Andrea Leadsom’s views on climate change (and also an Egyptian river)
8. Sadly lacking in provinces

The ides of May

Well, as the Home Secretary of time has the fertility treatment of destiny, and the Energy minister of fate causes the nuclear spillage of eternity, it seems to be the end of the blog post.
In tonight’s episode, Andrea May and Theresa Leadsom were both a bit horrendous but Theresa considerably less so. The Boris Johnson was played by Foreign Secretary. Diane Abbot was played by Lauren Cooper. The President of Turkey was played by t.b.c. This was an Gabrielquotes production!

See EU later

rect2985That was all so much fun, wasn’t it! The mark of a successful event is that people are asking, “When’s the next one?”

So, it came as no surprise that, no sooner had the referendum finished than people were clamouring for a second one!

homo floresiensis - large copyOn Friday morning, pro-Brexit voters were already ruing their decision – how unfortunate that nobody mentioned, beforehand, that a Leave vote might result in massive currency fluctuations. One such creature, Adam (pictured soft right), told the Daily Mail:

I’m a bit shocked to be honest. I didn’t think that was going to happen. I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain.

It’s that sort of thinking which resulted in Hartlepool electing a monkey as mayor.

Meanwhile, a vastly popular petition (Gabrielquotes passim) called for a re-vote. (A second, slightly cheekier petition added that the England v Iceland game should be re-played if we lose because that would be like well unfair.) The EU petition was signed by a curious number of people from outside the UK, including 39,000 from the Vatican City, which has a population of 800. Odd. Ironically, it was initiated before Thursday’s vote, by a pro-Brexit campaigner who was worried about a narrow Remain victory. Bet he’s not too happy now.

A song to mark the end of this process:

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If you enjoyed this satire on the disadvantages of petitions, you might also enjoy this rant about the disadvantages of petitions.

A pizza the action

slice_PT_margheritaI blush to refer to our European partners in this post, but I do have to report that the Italian senate has called for pizza-making to be regulated and subject to formal qualifications.

According to the BBC:

Aspiring pizzaioli would have to pass a theoretical and practical exam after undertaking training.

The practical exam will last around 40 minutes and is said to include:

  • The candidate demonstrating their skill at emergency topping
  • 10 minutes of independent tossing
  • At least one of the following manoeuvres:
    • Successfully putting an egg on a Fiorentina
    • Using one of those long wooden things in an oven
    • Not falling asleep at the pizza wheel
  • Selecting an appropriate bay parking space leaf
  • Applying up to 15 minor toppings and no more than one major topping

One senator who opposes the plans, Pam O’doro, told reporters: “This is not necessary. Selecting meats, vegetables and salad leaves as pizza toppings is easy. It’s not rocket science.”

She added: “The whole system will cost a lot of dough.”

Police, camera, regulation

Author of the guidance

Author of the guidance

The College of Policing has unveiled new guidelines for undercover police officers, which specify that they may only engage in sexual activity with a suspect if “proportionate” and “to mitigate an immediate threat”. They should also only have sex “to the minimum extent necessary” and “must record it”. Sounds eminently reasonable.

The guidance also goes into detail on the process of “legend building” (aka. ‘telling porkie pies’) and helpfully warns:

All undercover staff should be aware of the dangers posed by exposure of their true identity on social media.

Time to delete those Snapchats then… (Yes Tom Watson that means you.)

Officers are also cautioned not to do anything which “could have a negative impact on the reputation of undercover policing” – though it’s hard to think of anything which could tarnish the reputation of undercover policing any further.

Jewish human rights klutz

The Fruitcake & Loony Association, trading as Jewish Human Rights Watch, has been slapped down by the High Court for appointing itself as a representative of the Jewish community and trying to stifle free speech within local councils.

jonathan neumann jhrwJHRW and its director Jonathan Neumann (pictured far right) took Leicester, Swansea and Gwynedd councils to court in a bid to prevent them from passing resolutions boycotting illegal settlements in the West Bank. It never occurred to them that, er, dialogue and education might be more productive than a summons.

According to Neumann, a council boycott of West Bank settlements “amounts to a get-out-of-town order for Leicester’s Jews”.

He and his crazy friends are appealing Tuesday’s decision to the Court of Appeal, claiming that “councils can now call for a ban on homosexuals and for black people to have to leave town”.

Lucky there’s no hideous exaggeration or overstatement going on then.

JHRW, which has literally never issued a press release without some arbitrary reference to the Nazis, has previously threatened legal action against pubs for allowing pro-Palestinian activists to enter, and against the University of Cambridge for allowing its students to protest against Israel.

Although not a charity itself (and therefore under no obligation to disclose where it gets its vast budget from), JHRW has also reported anti-Israel charity War on Want to government regulators. The government will not accept such complaints unless the complainant has first “given the charity a chance to address the issue” – so Neumann duly recorded the nature of his dialogue and respectful engagement with the charity:

Demonstrations outside their offices and their Annual General Meeting. They were not interested in our concerns.

What a loopy bunch of thugs. How fortunate that Mr Justice Simon noted in his judgment:

The assertion that JHRW consulted widely among the Jewish community before bringing the claim was not supported by any evidence.

Those Tory leadership candidates in full

david-cameron[1]On the subject of loonies, with Cameron gone, the ol’ Conservvies will need to select a new leader. As Ladbrokes is taking thousands of pounds on the outcome of the contest, Gabrielquotes takes you through some of the runners and riders.

  • Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – Evens – as with Donald Trump, best known for his hair. Seems unwilling to make cuts.
  • Theresa Icequeen – 11/4 – widely seen as a threat to civil liberties due to her tendency to turn her opponents to ice by giving them one of her trademark stony stares. Obsessed with power; can she Let It Go?
  • Picky Morgan – 25/1 – as an Equalities Minister who opposes same-sex marraige, Morgan has a reputation for achieving the unachievable. Could she bring back the party’s glory days?
  • Jacob Rees-Oligarch – 33/1 – appeals to the paternalistic, fox-hunting, ultra-rich, ‘we’ve been here since Anglo-Saxon times, haven’t you?’ wing of the party.
  • Justine Greening – 50/1 – her revelation last weekend that she’s lesbian was hailed by George Osborne as “best news of the last 48 hours”. Could that slightly odd comment be a veiled endorsement?
  • Katy Bourne-Conspiracy – 74/1 – politics has been called ‘the deadliest dance’ and who better to take it on than Sussex’s Police & Crime Commissioner née ballet teacher?
  • Donald Tusk – 300/1 – the man to bring down the system from within?
  • Jeremy Corbyn – 350/1 – he’s going to be looking for another job soon, and unlike any of the other contenders, he already has party leadership experience.

Jezza and out

Corbyn: fallen in action

Corbyn: fallen in action

On the subject of Jeremy – the London Corbital – I must be just about the only member of the Labour Party who has neither resigned from nor been appointed to the Shadow Cabinet in the last week.

Despite an unprecedented rebellion and vote of no confidence far in advance of the referendum’s ‘people has spoken’ 52%, Corbyn is staying on in office because it would be “a betrayal” to resign. Meanwhile, the party has (at time of writing) failed to challenge him for the leadership because the two most obvious contenders have been “unable to agree which of them should be the unity candidate”.

And there I was thinking that the hallmark of a unity candidate was that there didn’t have to be an almighty row to establish who it should be.

Not only have Shadow Cabinet ministers been resigning, but, according to various news sources, various “junior shadows” have also resigned, to spend more time with the Vashta Nerada.

Euro 2016

(Put a joke here about how we’ve just done a second Brexit from the Euros. Bet no-one else will think of doing that. -Ed.)

Credit: Andrew Rae

Credit: Andrew Rae