Ten days ago the LibDems said all British troops should be out of Iraq by the end of October. It got them a few headlines and Ming Campbell attacked Tony Blair in Prime Minister’s Question Time. To me, it was the very worst kind of political headline grabbing stunt. US Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has now gone one stage further and proposed legislation to force President Bush to pull US troops out of the country by 31 March 2008. In that one move, he has proved himself unfit to hold the office of the President of the United States.




The French presidential election campaign came to London this week with Nicolas Sarkozy speaking to French ex pats based in London. The language was very different from that which we are used to from domestic politicians. I'm not sure I am a huge fan of Sarkozy. There's something quite demagogic about him that makes me feel he's not the full shilling. Segolene Royal, his Socialist opponent, has had her fair share of gaffes over the last two or three weeks, but I wouldn't mind betting that Sarkozy will be making a fair few over the next few months. His colourful private life may also come back to haunt him.


So Shilpa Shetty won Big Brother. Why am I even bothering to comment on that, you might well ask? Because she's one of the most beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on, and because it proves that light can triumph over darkness. Her grace, sense of decorum and eloquence have triumphed over the vulgarity, grossness and ignorance of Jade Goody, Jo thingy from S Club 7 and Teddy Sheringham's ex. And well done to the British public for voting her the winner. It's the only good thing to have come out of this wretched series.



It wasn’t hard to predict that the row over gay adoption and Catholic adoption agencies would throw the Conservative Party into a tailspin – at least, if you believe what you read in the newspapers. One day David Davis says he would vote with the Catholic Church and the next David Cameron makes clear he would side with the Prime Minister’s view that Catholic adoption agencies must accept gay couples. Issues like this have always been conscience issues and not subject to the Party whip. But when I read that the Conservative MP and well known Christian fundamentalist John Hayes oppose gay adoption “on the grounds that a family consists of a man and a woman and children" I find myself reaching for the political smelling salts. I shall now obey Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment - thou shalt never speak ill of a fellow Tory. And believe me, I'm tempted not to - obey it, that is.


Having said that, he does raise an interesting question: what is a family nowadays? The Oxford English Dictionary confirms John Hayes's view. It defines a family as "a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit." It also gives an alternate definition: "a group united by a significant shared characteristic". Families nowadays come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, the norm is a married couple with children - and that remains the bedrock of our society - but if the Conservative Party is to relate to Britain as it is today it needs to embrace all types of families, not just "the norm".  Surely the one thing which can unite everyone is that they believe children need a stable, loving environment. The “norm” is that this is provided by two married parents of the opposite sex. But with 61,000 children in care I’d like to think that even those who have deeply held religious convictions might bring themselves to believe that two people of the same sex can also provide a stable and loving home.


The Conservative Party is not some quasi-religious sect, it is a political party. Indeed, it’s a kind of political family. And in the end the tribal instinct of the political family means that John Hayes (bless him)  and I can happily co-exist within the same big tent.



Andy Coulson’s resignation as editor of the News of the World came as a surprise, but was welcome.  I have no idea if Coulson knew that his royal reporter was tapping royal mobile phones, but in a refreshing contrast to Government Ministers, Coulson has accepted responsibility for what Goodman did in his name. It happened on Coulson's watch, and he has taken the rap.

Maybe John Reid and Tony Blair would like to take note. Too often in our society (and indeed, our government) everything is someone else's fault, as we all know. Too often people live their lives by the lyrics to that most excellent Howard Jones song NO ONE EVER IS TO BLAME. Or if they are, it isn’t them.