Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sex and the Politician

News that Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Party President and leadership contender, has admitted to being bisexual makes you wonder whether he made the decision to announce it himself, rather than face yet another embarrassing press disclosure. Aside from accusations surrounding past denials about his sexuality, and the Bermondsey bye-election was way back in the far less enlightened 1980s, the danger is that this latest Lib Dem story will merely encourage the tabloids to keep on hunting for prurient Lib Dem stories to fill their pages. You can just see it now: "kinky candidate caught in polling booth".

Isn't rather time to grow up and accept that politicians have private lives and should be allowed to lead them.

Good news for those politicos feeling a bit stressed in case the News of Screws is on the snoop - they could always relieve the tension with a bit of "horizontal jogging", after all, the scientists reckon it's a great stress reliever for those in the public eye. Just so long as they don't get caught doing it public - or in view of a paparazzi's lens.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

At last, some good news from Turkey

The decision to end the prosecution of Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's leading author, for insulting the secular republic is very good news, not just for Pamuk but for all progressive Turkish writers, academics and journalists; it is also a sign that freedom of expression is finally being taken seriously by the authorities in Ankara.

Accepting adverse criticism in no way undermines Turkish democracy, rather it strengthens it and should go some way to aleviating fears over Turkish membership of the EU.

It's to be hoped that the decision also means that a sensible debate will now be possible on the persecution of the Armenian and Kurdish people.

Edukashun, edukashun, edukashun.

It looks like the danger of too much rhetoric backed by too little substance has finally come home to roost in the shape of Labour's much trumpeted education reforms.

With commentators unable to give a proper explanation of the difference between current "foundation" schools and the much vaunted (but ill described) "trust" schools the National Governors' Council is now warning that the complex politicking is very confusing, and even off-putting for parents.

The DfES strategy of spinning even the most mundane of changes means that genuinely beneficial changes intended to raise standards and support schools in difficult areas risk being lost to view as Kelly and Adonis try to browbeat Labour backbench opponents.