Thursday, 31 July 2008

On The Road Again.

"The Scottish Government is embarking on the first of four cabinet meetings to be held across the country this summer. First Minister Alex Salmond is visiting Dumfries and will host a reception for local good causes. "

But will they live up to the old adage about "what goes on tour stays on tour" ...? Bit of a busman's holiday though ... politicians using their summer holidays to meet the voters?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Law Breakers.

Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "The SNP celebrated their historic victory with a good old-fashioned piss-up in Glasgow's Barrachnie Inn on Thursday night – or rather Friday morning. So heady were the by-election celebrations that, after the special 3am licence expired, the Nationalist revellers carried on regardless. What would Kenny "Drink is the Devil's Juice" MacAskill, have made of such behaviour, we wonder? No one knows, as MacAskill wasn't present – just as he wasn't around for much of the campaign itself. We wonder why?"

Tut, tut, tut ... breaking Scotland's drink laws.

Double Dutch.

Mr Smith thinks that Scottish Labour needs someone as Leader who can rub more than a couple of brain cells together, but do they really need an Aeschylus?

"Scottish Labour leadership contender Iain Gray sets out his vision for a party coming to terms with defeat in Glasgow ... “A greek poet wrote "he who learns must suffer". Glasgow East was a terrible result for Scottish Labour and we have certainly suffered. Now we must use the forthcoming leadership debate to ensure that we learn …”

Mmmmm. It's all double dutch to Mr Smith, as it will be to the typical Labour voter, if there is any such thing after the Glasgow East by-election result. Get yourself a new speechwriter Iain before it is too late, or you could end up as a Geek.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Curran Affairs.

So fresh from losing Labour's fourth safest seat in Scotland and the twenty fifth safest Labour seat in the whole of the UK in the Glasgow East By-election, it would appear that Margaret Curran's bitter experience of losing ... now somehow qualifies her to become Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

"Margaret Curran is mulling a bid for the Labour deputy leadership at Holyrood, after her unsuccessful bid to win the Glasgow East by-election."

God loves a trier, but it demonstrates yet again the perils of allowing PM Gordon Brown to persuade you into standing in by-elections. Until she did that and lost Margaret was being touted as a possible Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, never mind a Deputy.

First Division.

So the Sir Humphreys aren't for striking unlike their "lower" level colleagues.

"SCOTLAND'S senior civil servants have voted against joining their lower-paid colleagues in striking over pay. Members of the First Division Association (FDA) have voted not to take any industrial action and to accept a pay offer of around 2 per cent."

It might have something to do with this later story ...

"THE Scottish Government is drawing up plans to split from the UK civil service machine, following demands from SNP ministers. Sir John Elvidge, the top civil servant at the Edinburgh administration, has revealed that he has begun a "substantial exercise" to examine how the 15,000-strong civil service department may become an independent organisation."

Monday, 28 July 2008

Queue Here.

Is it just Mr Smith or is it very ironic that when Wendy Alexander decided to stand as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party last year the Peoples' Party couldn't even rustle up one Labour MSP with a pulse to oppose her, but that now she has resigned there are reportedly no fewer than five Labour MSPs in the frame to have a go at winning the top job?

"THE battle to replace Wendy Alexander as Labour leader in Scotland begins when nominations open today. The front-runners are public services spokesman Andy Kerr, finance spokesman Iain Gray and current deputy leader Cathy Jamieson. Ex-Glasgow council leader Charlie Gordon - responsible for the dodgy donation that dogged Alexander's time as leader - and back-bencher Ken Macintosh have also expressed an interest."

Just a pity one of them didn't have the get up an go to challenge her last year, it would have saved them a year of embarrassing headlines and total political distraction. They say that the Brits love a queue.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The End?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Magnificent Seven.

It doesn't augur well for Ross Finnie MSP's Scottish Lib Dem Leadership bid.

"It was not the most auspicious of political campaign launches. As Ross Finnie composed himself, prepared to seize the moment and set out his vision of the future, he looked out on an audience of seven."

And one of them was the journalist from The Herald. Here's hoping things pick up for the Captain.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


If the Police can't even protect their own property what chance for the rest of us? They really should be more careful.

"THE keys to a police station and a set of blue flashing lights are among thousands of pounds worth of property stolen from Lothian and Borders Police ... Documents obtained by the Evening News show thieves have netted loot worth more than £6000 from police vehicles and stations in the past three years.As well as the red-faced officers who had their station keys stolen, high-value items including two motorbikes have been taken. Smaller thefts recorded include a police baton, a panic alarm and even a tin of coffee worth £45."

Spin Unspun.

Another example of "bury the trash day" in action at Westminster.

"Prime Minister Gordon Brown was under fire last night after revealing his government now employs 73 spindoctors, costing taxpayers £6million a year. He presided over an increase in the size of the Whitehall PR machine, despite his pledge on taking office to end the era of spin which typified Tony Blair’s reign at Number 10 ... The rise was disclosed in the Commons as MPs left for their summer holidays."

Has Mr Brown done anything he said he would do before he took over from former PM Tony Blair?

Fingers Crossed?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Flak Jacket Two.

Mrs Smith has just pointed out to Mr Smith that Mr Brown already has a flak jacket as recently modelled by the PM during his weekend visit to British forces in Iraq, hence the reason why he didn't need to buy the gift of a Presidential leather jacket from George Bush.

Nice machine gun Gordon. Any targets in mind?

Flak Jacket.

Mr Smith thinks that given all the criticism which PM Gordon Brown is on the receiving end of these days a Presidential flak jacket would have come in very handy.

"Gordon Brown chose not to keep a leather jacket presented to him by US President George Bush on his first visit to America as Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday. When pictures of the fur-collared brown bomber jacket - complete with presidential logo and badge reading "Rt Hon Gordon Brown" - first became public, observers noted that it did not fit well with the PM's usual wardrobe of sober suits. And details of gifts to ministers published yesterday showed that he chose not to take up the option of buying it for personal use."

Doris Esquire MSP.

As reported by Atticus, "It's not just by-elections that cause tempers to fray. It seems Bob Doris, the nationalist MSP for Glasgow, was involved in a scuffle in the city's SNP headquarters with a staff member. The chap had been off work with stress. But when he tried to talk it over with Doris, he lost his temper. The police were informed of the fracas. As a colleague diplomatically put it: "Bob's employer practices leave a bit to be desired."

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Flashy Bad Cop.

"A former police chief is breaking the law in his £30,000 five series BMW - by sporting flashing blue lights. David Mulhern, 51, retired from the force to join the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) as chief executive. But he kept his BMW with two blue lights on the front grille and siren. Only serving officers and emergency workers can have the lights."

He's another bad cop. And as soon as he is found out he decides to get rid of the offending articles. Say's it all.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Cheeky Monkey.

Mr Smith read with interest the insight story of the Labour Party campaign in the Glasgow East by-election, from Brendan Perring in yesterday's Sunday Times. But Mr Smith also noticed that the print version of the story in Scotland was entitled "desperate days for Labour" whilst in the online version on the Sunday Times' own website this became "they would have employed a monkey."

Mr Smith isn't sure whether the change is an attempt to play up the likelihood of an SNP victory in Glasgow East or an even bigger attempt to downplay Mr Perring's background.

Mr Perring complains that he'd "spent £100 on petrol driving party members around the constituency in my own car, but when I asked if I would be reimbursed, I was told Labour didn’t do that." Never mind. Mr Smith is sure that the Sunday Times will have well rewarded Mr Perring for his 2,100 word insight into the Labour campaign.


So you now apparently know what you will be doing on St Andrew's Day in 2010. Get it in the diary. Assuming of course the SNP Government get the Scottish Parliament to support an independence referendum ... and assuming they actually have the power to hold one. Don't hold your breath.

"THE proposed referendum on Scottish independence has been scheduled for 2010 on St Andrew’s Day, one of the most symbolic dates in the nationalist calendar."

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Dogs Allowed.

Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "There are some Labour strongholds so resolute in Glasgow East that it seems even the family pets have it in the blood. The only SNP casualty of the campaign so far has been local councillor Alison Thewliss, hospitalised after she was bitten by a dog while posting leaflets. "It's a shame," a colleague explained. "She went to get it checked out at the infirmary because it had got all infected."Drumlanrig wishes her a good return to health."

Mr Smith thought the "dog bites politician" story was a bit of an urban myth. Not in Glasgow East apparently.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Freedom Of Information.

So, Lib Dem leadership candidate Tavish Scott MSP apparently supports the Scottish Parliament having responsibility for taxes raised at UK level, ... but he doesn't want to tell anyone yet what taxes he thinks that Holyrood should actually oversee. Very Liberal. Mr Smith is sure we will find out eventually.

"TAVISH Scott, the front-runner for the Scottish Liberal Democrat leadership, wants the Scottish Parliament to have control over most of the taxes raised in Scotland – but he would not reveal which ones."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


"MPs have spent more than £3m of taxpayers' cash redesigning the parliamentary website, it has been revealed. The overhaul, which has taken more than two years, was approved in an effort to make the Houses of Parliament more accessible. The total bill now stands at £3,644,000, according to figures released by the House of Commons Commission, the committee chaired by Speaker Michael Martin."

That's a lot of cash. Mr Smith's blog hasn't cost nearly that much to get up and running.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Very Hospitable.

Is it just Mr Smith or is it a fact that Councillors under their Code of Conduct are not supposed to accept any gift of hospitality that could leave them open to the suggestion of impropriety or wrong doing?

So how can any elected councillor, especially one serving on a planning committee, possibly justify a company paying to have you attend a football match in Spain?

"A COUNCILLOR who voted through a mining firm's controversial plans has admitted they gave him a £3000 VIP trip to a Champions League tie in Barcelona. Jimmy Kelly was on the East Ayrshire Council planning committee which gave the green light to expand Scottish Coal's open cast mining in Cumnock - despite objections by green campaigners. His register of interests states: "Flights, hotels and tickets for football match: Barcelona v Celtic from Scottish Coal (2-5 March, 2008)". And he claimed £23,500 in expenses and allowances in the 2007/8 financial year, including £5,000 in travel expenses, as well as declaring the gift of a hamper from ... Scottish Coal.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Help The Aged.

Is Mr Smith the only one to be questioning what exactly is the point of the latest Scottish Government campaign which seems to focus on challenging stereotypes on age? Mr Smith's recollection may be getting hazy but aren't the laws in relation to employment and discrimination reserve to Westminster under the Scotland Act? So why is the Scottish Government spending £640,000 of public money on a campaign on issues it has no responsibility for?

"A CAMPAIGN has been launched to stamp out age discrimination in the workplace. A total of £640,000 is being spent by the Scottish Government on the See the Person, Not the Age initiative, which seeks to dispel stereotypes. The campaign will include television, radio, online and press advertising .."

One thing is for certain, as per other Scottish Government campaigns, it will have no effect and the public purse will be hundreds of thousands of pounds lighter.

Withering Heights.

Very Bronte-ish. Mr Smith thinks this demonstrates the problem with PM Gordon Brown. He has the very unfortunate habit of finding himself getting sidetracked on trivial issues of personality which can only undermine even further his authority as premier. How on earth was he persuaded into making these comments? Can you imagine Tony Blair responding to that one?

"COMMENTATORS have long been fond of likening Gordon Brown to the stormy, brooding character of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. And it seems that is also how the Prime Minister sees himself. In an interview, Mr Brown was asked about the comparison and appeared to revel in it, insisting it was "absolutely correct"."Well, maybe an older Heathcliff, a wiser Heathcliff," he added."

And he commented on his nail biting as well ...

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Faster Than ...

Mr Smith noticed an interesting intervention in the House of Lords on 2 July 2008 from Conservative peer Lord Forsyth of Drumlean during a debate on Transport at the 2012 Olympic Games, "My Lords, perhaps I misheard, but I think theMinister indicated that there would be a train every 15 seconds. Couldhe explain how people will be able to get on and off in that time?"

With that sort of razor sharp wit, how the evenings must speed past in the Forsyth household. Faster even than one of those Olympic trains. We think we know what he means.

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Tattoo.

From the Scotsman Diary, "WHO said MSPs were dull and lacked colour? At the annual dinner for the Scottish Parliament Journalists' Association, SNP MSP and Flower of Central Scotland Christina McKelvie revealed she had a large dragon climbing out of her posterior. Alarmed, an associate of Alba considered throwing a glass of water at her derriere just in case – until he was assured it was just a tattoo. "

Classy. Very classy. Mr Smith thought she was a Scottish Nationalist, not a Welsh one?

Jobs For The Boy (2)

And yet another job for Jack McConnell just a few days after the Malawi Government itself was even forced to ask Mr McConnell to set a date when he will actually become their High Commissioner.

"Former First Minister Jack McConnell has agreed to become an ambassador for a leading children's charity, it was announced yesterday. As an NCH ambassador Mr McConnell - a former teacher - will work to help the charity fulfil its mission to help the most vulnerable children and young people."

Just how many jobs does Jack need and Mr Smith hopes that NCH aren't expecting a long-term commitment.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Margaret Curran Lives Here ... Not.

It reminds Mr Smith of the bitterly successful Fulham by-election campaign run by now Labour MP and former Labour Minister, Nick Raynsford, in the mid eighties. The only problem is that Margaret doesn't live there and the certainty is that if she, or indeed anyone else, is elected to Westminster to represent Glasgow East they will not spend the majority of their time in the constituency. They will spend it in London.

"Margaret Curran, Labour's candidate in the Glasgow East by-election, was yesterday forced to clarify a claim she had lived in the east end "all my life" after it emerged she has lived in an affluent part of the south side of the city for the past 20 years. The Glasgow Baillieston MSP angrily denied allegations that she had misled voters, although an aide later conceded she may have made a "slip of the tongue". Ms Curran is not the only candidate to stay outwith the Glasgow East boundaries: at the close of entries to the Electoral Office at Glasgow City Council yesterday, it emerged that, of the mainstream candidates, only one - the SNP's John Mason - actually lives there."

Jobs For The Boy.

"A Scottish Government minister hit out today after a former Labour MSP became chairman of a body involved in setting up a Gaelic television service. Alasdair Morrison - who was the MSP for the Western Isles until 2007 - has been appointed as the chairman of MG ALBA."

Mr Smith thinks it is a very clear case of "Jobs for the boys" by the Scottish Secretary Des Browne MP and it makes you wonder how the appointment ever made it through the normal public appointments processes.

Lib Dem's Army.

So Lib Dem MSP Ross Finnie has joined the race to succeed Nicol Stephen MSP as Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Mr Finnie, best known for his resemblance to Captain Mannering in TV sitcom Dad's Army, at 61 is probably past it and his arrival in the contest can only be great news for other contender Tavish Scott MSP who's youth will contrast with Mr Finnie's lack of it. The Lib Dems should remember what happened last time they shunned youth for experience in a Leadership election ... er ... Menzies Campbell MP.

The Big Apple.

And from Drumlanrig again, "CHEAP iPOD? I, RIGHT! Never mind the gold-plated pension, just feel those hi-tech goodies. The Scottish Government have admitted that one of their number was given a super-swanky Apple iPod, bought with taxpayers' cash. The government insists that the gizmo was bought in order to help develop podcasts by ministers, but this was no ordinary iPod, it was a £200 30 Gigabyte super-stylish black model. Lesser humans might be expected to make do with a small cheap MP3 player. That's not good enough for civil servants it seems."

But who was it? We should be told.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

LATEST: Glasgow East By-Election.

Mr Smith has just noticed a political shock of seismic proportions in the Glasgow East by-election. According to the official list of candidates published by the BBC there is no candidate from the ... Miss Great Britain Party.

They could have come up with someone to carry the party banner.

Fran and Anna anyone?

Giving Blood.

And our Annabel has been busy according to the Herald Diary, although Mr Smith isn't what the connection is between the founding of the National Health Service and giving blood: "YESTERDAY Annabel was giving a pint of blood, to mark the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service. A member of the Blood Transfusion Service, seeing the assembled press, asked what was happening. A colleague got it slightly wrong when he told her: "Someone from the Tories is celebrating her 60th birthday."

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Mr Smith is glad to see that the popularity of the Scottish Parliament is on the up, although he's not sure that it becoming a party hot spot is such a good thing.

"THE Scottish Parliament is at risk of becoming "partyville", it was warned today, as figures revealed the number of events held at Holyrood had doubled. The building is proving such a popular venue for receptions that parliament bosses are to make more space available for evening events. At the moment, only the garden lobby can accommodate gatherings of more than 100 – and it is normally used for receptions at least two evenings a week when parliament is in session.But now both the members' restaurant and the public entrance foyer are to be opened up for such occasions as well. Around 400 events have been held in the parliament over the past 12 months – more than double the number in the first year after the building opened four years ago."

And you don't need to pay a room hire charge, although the drinks packages are a bit pricey ... or so Mr Smith hears.

No Vacancies.

Courtesy of Drunlanrig, "With the Lib Dems also looking for a new Scottish leader, there has been much talk of all Holyrood's opposition being thrown into disarray by the dominant Salmond. This is what prompted the Scots Tories to erect a "No Vacancies" sign above the office of leader Annabel Goldie. Just in case anyone got the wrong idea."

Monday, 7 July 2008

Labour's Luvvies Lost.

So the Scottish Labour Party can't seem to come up with anyone to fight the Glasgow East Westminster by-election which has probably got something to do with the normally rock solid majority of 13,000 in the seat looking about as shaky as one of those nodding dogs you see in the back seat of some cars.

We now have the latest possible candidate identified as Labour MSP Margaret Curran who as recently as last week was also being tipped as a possible successor to Wendy Alexander MSP as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, but how is it possible for Margaret to do two jobs, as an MSP and as MP, at the same time? Come to think of it maybe she should ask her Labour MSP colleagues Lord George Foulkes, who manages to do three of them, and Jack McConnell, who seems to manage two at the moment, one of which involves a lot of jet setting.

We knew that Labour were keen on creating jobs, but Mr Smith never appreciated before that it was so that they could have more than one of them for themselves.

But a friendly word of warning for Margaret. The last female candidate that was hand-picked to run in a by-election by PM Gordon Brown was Labour MEP Catherine Stihler ... who went on to loose the Dunfermline West by-election in what had also been a previously "rock solid" Labour seat. But never mind Margaret, even if you lose you will still be able to continue as a Labour MSP, just like Ms. Stihler continues as a Labour MEP.

Roast Anyone?

Mr Smith likes a bit of history, so thanks to the Herald Diary for this insight: "A NEW range of luxury chocolate bars by The Chocolate Library feature famous Scottish landmarks, including one entitled the Scottish Parliament. The condensed history of the parliament accompanying the bar explains that Queensberry House, which has been incorporated into the parliament building, includes the oven where the son of the Duke of Queensberry, 300 years ago, roasted a servant boy on a spit. The oven is now in the office where politicians' allowances are processed."

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Councillor Cheeky.

This one caught Mr Smith's eye. One more example of an elected representative probably not breaking the rules, but certainly exploiting them when they don't have to because they are doing very nicely thank you very much by being paid a large salary at public expense.

"A CHEEKY councillor is moving into a new council house - across the road from the one she already owns. Ellen Glass is letting her brother and sister stay in her old home while she moves into the two-bedroom 1950s house worth more than £100,000. The move has caused fury in an area where 12,000 people are on the waiting list for council housing."

To have this amount of bare faced cheek is truly breathtaking ... and she is an Independent Councillor. It makes you wonder what some of the others are getting away with the backing of their party colleagues behind closed doors.

Saturday, 5 July 2008


Is it just Mr Smith or does the irony of this hit home hard.

The Scottish Government published on their website on 25th June 2008, an intriguing publication called "Data Handling in Government" which looked at how Scottish Government bodies and agencies handled sensitive public information.

One of the conclusions reached was that "This review has found that data security is being taken seriously across the Scottish Government and its agencies but that there is room for improvement. There is substantial good practice in Scotland but there have also been a few breaches of security, which are damaging to public confidence."

Ironically, one of the agencies which contributed to the report was none other than the Scottish Ambulance Service which has recently had to apologise for losing the details of 900,000 "999" calls. You couldn't make it up really.

Outstanding Balance.

There are those that would say a collection rate of 94% is pretty respectable. But Mr Smith would suggest not, when the 6% that was uncollected equated to £112 million.

"Nearly £112m of council tax went uncollected last year, figures revealed. Bills totalling £1,940,354 were sent out and £1,828,516 was received, a collection rate of 94.2%."

Friday, 4 July 2008

Brand New.

Mr Smith has been passed a copy of the "Commercial Opportunities" Pack for the SNP's 74th Annual National Conference in Perth, from 16-19th October 2008.

Amongst the "opportunities" being "sold" to have "your company or organisational logo displayed throughout the conference venue in highly visible locations" are:

Sponsorship of the Conference Marquee for £15,000;

Conference Lanyards for £5,000;

Carbon Offset (yes ... Carbon Offset) for £2,000;

Wi-Fi Access for £2,000;

Stair Risers for £1,500;

Cafe Area for £1,000;

Projection Wall for £750;

Recycling Bins for £675; and

A daily advert in the Conference Today news-sheet for £250 per day.

Mr Smith is surprised the SNP didn't think about sponsorship of some more fundamental items at the event, for example the Conference toilet facilities, which will definitely have a captive audience.

Bad Cops?

As part of his on-going campaign to try and hold the "boys in blue" better to account, a pat on the back to the Dundee Courier.

"More than 550 complaints—including allegations of neglect of duty, assault and harassment—have been made against Tayside Police staff in the last 18 months."

Only a handful resulted in further action against the officers involved and the vast majority of the complaints will have been malicious, but it still raises questions about police conduct and how they deal with the public, if the the public feel obliged to make so many complaints in the first place.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Lord Fraser Esquire.

Mr Smith noticed the recent coverage about the fact that Lord Fraser's Inquiry into the construction of the Scottish Parliament building cost £700,000.

Mr Smith also noticed that Lord Fraser himself was one of the biggest expenditures in the Inquiry, "Following the announcement commissioning an investigation into the Holyrood project, Lord Fraser was appointed by the First Minister in August 2003, to lead the enquiry. At the outset of the investigation it was agreed that Lord Fraser's fees would be capped at £150,000, inclusive of VAT and other expenses." In the end he came in at a more modest cost of £127,659.

Nice work if you can get it. Inquiry anyone?

Mr T.

Mr Smith reads that the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill MSP, is getting a bit of a reputation as being "anti-drink" because of constant admonitions, or so they seem, to the Scottish lumpen proletariat to be careful about how much alcohol they are drinking.

Mr MacAskill's response to this is to continually pose with a pint of beer and keep repeating the mantra that he likes a pint of Tennent's, which he recently apologised for calling "cooking lager." Mr Smith would however like to point out to Mr MacAskill that he risks finding himself in breech of the Scottish Government Ministerial Code which at Section 9.29 states, "Ministers should also avoid promoting an individual company's products or services by association."

Mr MacAskill is fast becoming Mr Tennent's. Who needs to advertise when Kenny is on the case?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Hail to the Chiefs.

"EXECUTIVES at a Scottish council are in line for above-inflation pay rises that are considerably in excess of what is currently being offered to its workers. SNP-led Renfrewshire Council's chief executive David Martin has proposed that his 26 most senior staff receive pay deals of up to 16.7% over two years."

Mr Smith is sure that they are worth every penny of their several thousand pounds pay increases, but how about a 17% pay increase for school cleaners or dinner ladies?

Shaddap You Face.

Mr Smith missed this first time around, but there is commendable honesty in the views of this Council official.

"Council officials fed up with meetings dragging on into the evening want politicians to stop asking so many questions. Director of corporate services, Jim Inch, has proposed restricting the questions tabled ahead of full council meetings, and called for a "brisker" approach to meetings. But the move was today branded an "affront to democracy" by opposition politicians."

Will they vote it down? Speaks volumes about local government.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Politics 101.

Mr Smith doesn't often venture into political affairs outside of Scotland or the US, but on this occasion for educational purposes he feels he must. Looking at the line up of candidates for the Henley Parliamentary by-election caused by the election of former Tory MP Boris Johnson as London Mayor, Mr Smith noted with interest they included ... Chris Adams, UK Independence Party ... Derek Allpass, English Democrats ... Harry Bear, The Fur Play Party ... Louise Cole - Independent (Miss Great Britain Party) ... Amanda Harrington - Independent (Miss Great Britain Party) ...

Er ... hang on ... isn't there something wrong there? Two candidates from the Miss Great Britain Party ... er ... weren't you only supposed to field on candidate in a by-election? Well one of them was a blonde ... just joking.