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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cheap shots and the not so cheap art of electioneering

The Guardian headline urges MPs to change their drinking habits but this story is not advocating the closure of Commons' bars or compulsory AA meetings for the most hardened Parliamentary drinkers. Instead Sustain, the food and farming pressure group, is urging MPs to drop the environmentally unfriendly and expensive habit of drinking bottled water at meetings in favour of a glass from the tap. Quite right too!

Meanwhile, negotiations continue over the reform of election funding. It seems that the impasse boils down to Labour defending its interests in resisting a cap on donations, whilst the Tories seek to retain their right to spend lots of money in individual constituencies between elections so as to gain an electoral advantage. Nice to see that they are all working for the good of the Country.

My concern is that the sort of compromise that emerges from these talks will be purely cosmetic. I cannot see how anything being suggested so far prevents somebody effectively buying a peerage or other influence. That can only be stamped out through fairly draconian controls linked with state funding. Hell will freeze over before the two major parties agree to anything like that sort of settlement.

The Western Mail, reports that Alan Trench, an academic at University College London's Constitution Unit, believes it will be necessary to increase the number of AMs from 60 to 80 to ensure proposed laws receive proper scrutiny. He may well be right, however it is too late and we are going to have to make do for now. As Wales Office Minister, Nick Ainger says, "We will suck it and see."

Which brings me neatly to 'This Life'. I agree with Iain Dale that last night's reunion was 'outstanding' - a reference to Warren's parting shot at the end of the last series. I had forgotten how fascinatingly awful all the main characters were. However, if you wanted to see some real monsters at work last night then you needed to tune into BBC4 for 'The Thick of it'. As a one-off special this programme left all the others trailing. It was 'Yes Minister' with menace, 'Commander in Chief' with attitude, Hannibal Lecter in the 'West Wing', 'The Amazing Mrs Pritchard' with vampires. Quite brilliant.
as a huge fan of the series, i thought the This Life reunion was awful...

never got into The Thick of It really - was Chris Langham in it
No, he wasn't. Good review here
The Thick of It was outstanding. Do politicians really watch it in the same way that medics watch "Scrubs" and laugh at the sheer accuracy of events?
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