Attending three funerals in three weeks must surely qualify as having qualified for middle age. On Monday I went to the funeral of Rose McEwen in Hellesdon. Rose had died at the ripe old age of 94 and the turnout was testament to the esteem she was held in by the local community. I first met her twenty years ago when I was working for the then MP for Norwich North, Patrick Thompson. Rose was the chairman of the local Hellesdon Conservative Ladies Branch. I dubbed them the Hellesdon Angels, which rather tickled Rose. She ruled them with an iron fist and didn’t tolerate any nonsense. You always knew that if Rose promised her ladies would do something, do it they would. Rose loved driving and I shall always think of her in her Ford Fiesta. Hellesdon will miss Rose McEwen – and so will the Conservative Party in Norwich North.
Fans of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will no doubt be reassured by the Government’s wish to extend the maximum detention for terrorist suspects from 28 days to 42 days. Forty two days was the answer to everything in that particular book. But not so long ago they wanted 56 days. And a few months before that they were arguing for ninety days. What a principled lot this government are! The problem they have is that not a single MP who couldn’t support 56 days will support 42. There is a real chance they will be defeated. In my heart, I’d like to bang up terror suspects for as long as it takes, but if we did that we’d be letting the terrorists win. We should be protecting our civil liberties which the law has protected for centuries. Labour’s problem is that so far they haven’t been able to make the case for an extension apart, that is, from a succession of former Labour Home Secretaries. The Police don’t want it, the security services don’t want it and the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service says he doesn’t want it either. The only people arguing for it are the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. If they don’t see the writing on the wall soon, then they will live to rue the consequences of a defeat in Parliament.
I don’t mind admitting that my musical taste is, well, a bit rubbish. I like the bands and singers everyone else loves to hate. A week or so ago I heard James Blunt sing the most fantastic ballad from his new album. To be honest I’ve always found him a little irritating, but courage in hand I decided to buy his new album and judge it for myself. I loved it, but everyone I tell that to pulls a face. I’ve always been completely open about my love of so-called trash – and I speak as the owner of 150 Cliff Richard CDs. Well not everyone can hate Cliff or James Blunt, otherwise they wouldn’t be as successful as they are. So to all Cliff and James Blunt fans, I say this. Come out of the closet and be proud!
The fickleness of the media was exposed this week when they pulled stand-in LibDem leader Vince Cable down off his pedestal. There’s no doubt about it, Cable had had a good few weeks and his ‘Stalin to Mr Bean’ line at the previous week had been a hit. But was it really that good? This week he got in a bit of a muddle and suddenly Vince had become mortal again. It happens to us all!
Every one knows that ignorance is no defence in a court of law. “I didn’t mean to do it”, or “I didn’t know” or “it was unintentional” are all lines unlikely to go down well with His Honour. Labour politicians know that just as well as anyone else. So to hear these excuses trotted out in the Labour donations row, by Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander, by Harriet Harman and by Peter Hain is a bit galling to say the least. It shows that they know they are on shaky ground if that’s the best defence they can come up with. Not one of them has had the decency and honour of resigning, but I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. They’ve become so addicted to power than they just cannot bring themselves to do the honourable thing and go. But be sure of one thing. This is not like Cash for Honours where the Police were investigating whether a crime has been committed. In each case here, the politicians concerned has broken electoral law. The Prime Minister called the actions of his party over the Abrahams case “illegal” and “unlawful”, yet refused to call in the Police himself. That, to me, shows why Brown us unfit to be Prime Minister.