Round up of the week, includes Haiti, David Cameron, Alastair Campbell, Theresa May, Rod Liddle and Britain's rising prison population.
The Week in Politics
• The terrible earthquake in Haiti is the main story this week, with Metro reporting that up to 500,000 people may have been killed. The earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale, struck at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, devestating the capital Port-au-Prince, destroying everything from ramshackle huts to the Presidential palace.
Governments, people and aid agencies across the world have pledged support, with the Disasters Emergency Committee launching an appeal for help. To donate call 0370 6060 900 or visit tinyurl.com/haiti-appeal – or go directly to specific charities’ websites, details of which can be found here and here.
• In Westminster, Gordon Brown pledged aid and support to Haiti, supported by David Cameron. The pleasantries quickly turned to the usual ya-boo, however, with the Prime Minister mocking the old Etonian’s infamous airbrushed picture, raising questions of whether the Tories are all style and no substance. He said:
“If you can’t get your photograph right it’s pretty difficult to get your policies right… He needs three television election debates cos he’s got three versions of the same policy to put forward in the debate… He’s getting even much redder than he is on his photograph… I have to say, what you see, clearly, is not what you get.”
• Tony Blair’s former spin chief Alastair Campbell appeared before the Iraq Inquiry on Tuesday, unrepentant at the course of events, defending “every single word” of the so-called “dodgy dossier” which claimed Britain was “45 minutes from attack” by Iraqi WMDs. This prompted howls of outrage from the press, Left and Right alike. The Mail described him as “shameless, swaggering and STILL lying”, with the Mirror dubbing him “the Godfather of Spin”, “a master at buck passing”. The man himself drew inspiration from God for his appearance, blogging:
“As I walked through the media scrum on the way in, and on the way out, and listened to some of the overblown and agenda driven commentary, I was glad to have read in the morning an email with Psalm 56 attached … ‘What can mortal man do to me?’ it asks ‘All day long they twist my words, they are always plotting to harm me. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life…’ I never detected a death plot among the British media, but the rest of it sums up the Westminster lobby to a tee.”
Still, at least he’s got a great football club to support, with a loyal manager at the helm…
Progressive of the week
Theresa May (not to be confused with Teresa May), the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, who on Tuesday refused to defend Margaret Thatcher on her record in tackling inequality. Asked by Left Foot Forward to compare 1979-97 with the last 13 years, she failed to support Mrs Thatcher or her successor.
Regressive of the week
Angry, Millwall-supporting Spectator columnist Rod Liddle, a man with an irrational hatred of Islam. Just like Nick Griffin. As Left Foot Forward pointed out, on Saturday he wrote a Spectator article taken straight from the BNP handbook. He said:
“F*** off back to where you’re from, then, you Muslims.”
Evidence of the week
Britain has the second-highest ratio of prisoners to population in the G7, with 153 prisoners per 100,000 of population, second only to the US – who jail 756 per 100,000 – revealed KCL’s International Centre for Prison Studies World Prison Population List. The UK’s prison ratio is also higher than Turkey (142), Burma (126) and Pakistan (55). As Left Foot Forward reported today, the figures come in the wake of a Justice Committee report which called for the prison population to be cut by a third.
What’s trending on Twitter
Alastair Campbell and MyDavidCameron.com
Alastair Campbell’s appearance at the Iraq Inquiry and airbrush-gate were the top political stories on Twitter this week, according to Tweetminster.
Other big stories included: Doctor Who star David Tennant’s backing of Gordon Brown; the Government’s plans for free laptops and broadband; Tory scholarships for children of fallen soldiers; and Nick Clegg’s dropping of pledges and his attack on David Cameron on gay rights.
Here are some tweets on Alastair’s Iraq inquisition:
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@campbellclaret: Having a sandwich mid inquiry. Watching lunchtime news. God these hacks do talk some drivel
@BBCLauraK: Afternoon evidence now underway – Campbell admits he did nothing to damp down 45 minute claim story