On Monday, Newsnight had an interesting report from their Policy Editor Christopher Cook about an idea from David Willetts to allow universities to take over the student loan book of their students. David Willetts then appeared in the studio and was grilled by Kirsty Wark. Willetts ended by praising Cook’s “excellent journalism”. It may of course have indeed been excellent journalism. Of course his ability to “get” the story was in no way influenced by the fact that Cook used to work for Willetts as his research assistant. That fact wasn’t shared with Newsnight viewers. What a surprise!


This afternoon I’ll be broadcasting my radio show from the marginal constituency of Hastings. Why? Because Ed Miliband is spending much of the day there and will be doing an hour long phone-in with me, starting at 5pm. It’s the first time he has done this but I reckon it’s a medium he will thrive in. Most politicians do.

It’s actually quite difficult for a politician to be spontaneous and show a side of them that few people see. Too often they go into radio and TV interviews primed by their media advisors with a single message to get across, and whatever the interviewer asks they will come out with the pre-prepared soundbite about “helping people through the cost of living crisis by delivering our long term economic plan.” I’ve banned these three phrases from my show as I reckon listeners are fed up with them and switch off when they hear politicians uttering them. Phone-ins aren’t like that. Politicians have to be more spontaneous and give genuine answers, otherwise they are found out. Tune in to LBC this afternoon to see how Ed Miliband does in what for him will be a new environment.


So on Friday it’s an outside broadcast from Hastings. On Monday we’re doing the show from the pavement outside Westminster Abbey as we build up to the service of commemoration to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1. Luckily I will have my friend Keith Simpson with me. He’s a military historian and what he doesn’t know about the war isn’t worth knowing. What I know about the war was gained from A Level history thirty odd years ago. OK, nearer 35. In 1914 Britain had a relatively small army, but as soon as war broke out tens of thousands of young men rushed to recruiting stations to volunteer. A hundred years on I can’t imagine the same thing would happen if we went to war, even if it was considered for a genuinely good reason. Perhaps as a nation we should ponder that.


I love sport, but have only watched about one minute of the Commonwealth Games. And that was only because I just happened to switch the TV on just as the Mens’ 100m started. It just about says it all that Usain Bolt was in Glasgow but couldn’t be arsed to run in this race. I wonder how long it will be before some bright spark in Brussels comes up with the idea of an EU Games. I’m surprised they haven’t blown billions on it before now. Although maybe the reason they haven’t done it is because it reinforces the idea of the nation state. And Britain would no doubt come top of the medals table.


No doubt next week’s newspapers will be full of the fact that politicians have had the temerity to have a holiday. In August of all months! How very dare they.

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