Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Grant.’

Theresa May is right to be wary of criticising Trump. This isn’t Love Actually

30/01/2017, 06:55:12 PM

by Kevin Meagher

How far should Theresa May have gone in upbraiding the immigration policies of President Trump?

If she had listened to the sustained Twitterburst over the weekend, and then again this afternoon, she would have channelled her inner-Hugh Grant and recited that pompous load of tosh his fictional prime minister ladles over the smarmy US president in Love Actually:

‘I fear that this has become a bad relationship. A relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to, erm… Britain’.

Instead, she despatched the home and foreign secretaries to speak to their US counterparts and, gently, one assumes, articulate the government’s displeasure about the effects on British citizens with dual-nationality from the seven (mainly Islamic) countries affected by Trump’s new edict. Within the remit given, they seem to have secured her desired result.

It’s hardly gunboats up the Potomac.

But that’s as far as the Prime Minister should go.

Of course, Theresa May has not handled this adroitly. She could have saved herself a lot of political strife if she had got out in front of this issue from the start.

Downing Street should have robustly made the (obvious) point that longstanding protocol dictates that prime ministers do not comment on the internal affairs of the US, but that, at the official level, the law of unintended consequences vis-à-vis British nationals would be pointed out.

Diplomatic niceties are there for good reason. Do we want Donald Trump responding in kind and coming out for Scottish independence?

Theresa May’s strategic responsibility is to secure an alliance with the new White House that will, in turn, deliver a suitable bilateral trade deal once we leave the EU.

Clearly Trump is a mercurial figure, so why jeopardise a successful initial meeting just so she can ‘virtue signal’ to the Twitterari?

Disagree? Then can anyone point to precedents where British PMs have publicly criticised key domestic policies of US Presidents?

Theresa May’s detractors are genuine, sure, but this is high-stakes international statecraft we’re dealing with, not passing a resolution in the junior common room.

Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron would have done exactly the same thing as Theresa May: Look a bit embarrassed, soak up the anger about being America’s poodle, then issue the most anaemic, mealy-mouthed coded criticism that lands no more than a glancing blow.

Rest assured, the flaws in Trump’s policy will do for it and common sense will prevail by April.

Making sure Britain has the best chance of surviving as a trading nation outside the EU must be the government’s overriding concern.

We need to properly accept that Brexit means we are living in an age of realpolitik. Idealists who want to wag their fingers at Donald Trump are free to do so; but they should not pretend this is anything other than idle posturing.

Britain is leaving the EU and Donald Trump is now US President. These are now immutable facts.

The task is to work with the grain of these twin realities and ameliorate the worst excesses of both.

It might not be pretty, but that’s grown-up politics.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Ed, on Leveson: you say compromise, I say stitch-up

20/03/2013, 11:34:40 AM

by Ian Stewart

Before New Labour, in the mists of time before the red rose and “Meeting the Challenge, Making the Change” (remember that?), we used to have a wonderful little enamel badge, now beloved of collectors. Round, in red and white with gold detail – the pen, the shovel (workers by hand and brain), the torch and three simple words. “Labour”, “Party” and perhaps most importantly “Liberty”.

Yes Ed, “Liberty” – not “censorship”, not “revenge”, not even “royal charter”, just liberty pure and plain. It is a word that is threaded through the tale of radical and socialist politics of these islands for hundreds of years.

Every assault on power and privilege since the middle ages has met with repression and censorship together. Under the tyrant Charles 1st, Freeborn John Lillburne and William Prynne were imprisoned, censored, flogged and in Prynne’s case publicly mutilated.

In the early nineteenth century, owning Tom Paine’s “Rights of Man” would get you a free trip to Australia. Early feminists who wished to spread sex education and contraception were prosecuted under obscenity laws. Every faltering step forward by our side has seen gagging acts, libel actions by the wealthy, repression and imprisonment.

You know this, you are not an ignorant man. So why have you conspired with Nick Clegg and David Cameron to limit not only press freedom, but also the right to free speech and free investigation for everyone who blogs or writes in this country? The hacking scandal, exposed by Nick Davies at the Guardian is a fine example of investigative journalism – so why have you now made Nicks job harder? Who benefits from this? Sure, Hugh Grant is probably a nice guy, a plank of wood on the screen, but ok enough for a lunch.

Last week the government you oppose announced that for the international wealthy, British justice is the best money can buy. With our repressive libel laws that treat corporations as individuals, this is so for every dictator, every oligarch, every tax-avoiding press baron out there. Your response? To further gag and limit journalists, on the pretext of aiding ordinary people. So please tell me:  how exactly does this help the patients of South Staffs NHS?


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Cameron caves on Leveson

18/03/2013, 06:58:13 AM

by Atul Hatwal

It was a weekend of fraught Leveson lobbying and negotiation. After a pugnacious performance from the prime minister last Thursday, when he abruptly curtailed the cross-party talks, the reality of his political position has slowly dawned on him.

The votes in parliament weren’t there. Specifically, David Cameron was headed for one of the biggest defeats for a sitting prime minister, on a fully whipped vote, ever.

With a potential pro-Leveson majority of over 40 in prospect, no previous prime minister in the past 90 years, not Gordon Brown, John Major, Jim Callaghan or Harold Wilson, would have suffered such a reverse on a party political issue.

Late Sunday night negotiations were still ongoing but the outline of a weekend deal hammered out by Nick Clegg, mediating between Cameron and Ed Miliband, had emerged.

For David Cameron it will represent an astonishing volte face from his position on Thursday. If the new deal is confirmed this morning, as expected, he will have U-turned on three central points:

  • Statutory underpinning for the royal charter – the charter will be embedded in law. A super-majority in parliament will be required to change its terms, rather than the charter being amendable by the privy council
  • The editors’ veto on membership of the regulator – the editors will no longer be able to block appointments. A majority decision of the appointment panel will be able  to confirm membership of the regulator
  • The editors’ control over the code of conduct – the editors will no longer write the code. It will be drafted by a joint team of editors, journalists and members of the public

David Cameron will ultimately accept 90% of the case made by the victims’ lobby group Hacked Off, as embodied in the Labour and Lib Dem proposals for a royal charter. The one compromise by the pro-Leveson coalition is likely to be to cede the option of exemplary damages against egregiously non-compliant organisations.


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Conference Notebook

04/10/2012, 02:30:17 AM

by Jon Ashworth

Ed Miliband knocked it out of the park with a speech that had delegates whooping with delight and assembled hacks starting to concede that Labour could be back in the game. Ed put in a similarly assured and fizzing performance at the gala dinner later that night flanked by stars from Coronation Street. But while we all have our spring in our step, no one is under any illusion that we still have a long hard journey ahead.


My nose for sniffing out conference floor controversies hasn’t let me down. As I thought, Tuesday’s CAC report was almost voted down with Unite supporting the ‘reference back.’ Smartly, conference managers have now agreed to table the emergency resolution from the TSSA and so avoiding the embarrassment of conference not agreeing to the proposed timetable for the day’s proceedings. The swift turnaround from the CAC was sensible theoretically if the report had been voted down a new one would have had to be drawn up delaying the start of conference business on the day of the leader’s speech.


Every year at conference I see old friends in the bar who I only ever catch up with at conference. It’s like an old family reunion. Last night delegates were delighted that as well as the usual mix of journalists, MPs, shadow cabinet members and so on, we were also joined by Hugh Grant. Councillors and prospective politicians queued up for photos many of which will no doubt, unbeknownst to Hugh, feature  prominently on individual election leaflets next year.


Conference is alive with rumour and gossip of famous names who may or may not be seeking parliamentary selection in the near future. This week we’ve seen more of Labour’s new generation of parliamentary candidates selected in marginal constituencies. Battleground seats like Burton, Lincoln, Harlow, Hastings and Norwich to name just a handful of places that have already selected impressive campaigners fighting hard. Norwich’s Jessica Asato had the smart idea to tour conference with a bucket to raise funds to oust Chloe Smith. That woman will go far but if all candidates follow her lead conference will become even more expensive.


Labour friends of Pakistan is well attended by Labour MPs all of whom get to say a few words. Rosie Winterton the chief whip walks in and is quickly ushered up to the platform to make a key note address. Not expecting this she tells us that as chief whip she is supposed to remain silent though she’s pleased to have temporarily escaped her advisors who try to keep her under control. The advisors of course have nothing to worry about unlike their counterparts in the government chief whip’s office.

Jon Ashworth is Labour MP for Leicester South and an opposition whip

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Hugh Grant owns up: I fancy Paul Farrelly more than Louise Mensch

18/09/2012, 09:32:10 AM

Yes it’s true. Last night Hugh Grant went public with his affection for Labour’s twinkle-eyed MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme in a speech, admitting, “I fancy Paul a lot more than Louise Mensch”.

The occasion was the launch of Everybody’s Hacked Off by Brian Cathcart at the House of Commons.  The book sets the scene for the publication of the Leveson report, giving a coruscating view of past failed attempts at press regulation, the issues that directly led to the inquiry and the horrors uncovered over the course of its progress.

Hugh Grant wrote the introduction and will have had a chance to get up close and personal with both Farrelly and Mensch, members of the culture, media and sport select committee, through his work with the crusading Hacked Off campaign.

Some of those present interpreted Grant’s comments as reflecting more on his feelings towards Ms Mensch rather than a burgeoning attraction towards Farrelly.

Earlier this year, Mensch was accused of tabling amendments to the culture, media and sport select committee report that would have “exonerated” James Murdoch. She subsequently criticised the committee’s report, which was harshly critical of News International and Rupert Murdoch, as “partisan.”

But Paul Farrelly had certainly put his best foot forward in his speech preceding Grant’s turn. He described himself in alluring terms as, “the slightly thinner one on the TV sitting next to Tom Watson on the culture, media and sport select committee.”

If this wasn’t enough to set hearts fluttering, he went on,

“I’m also not the one tweeting with Louise Mensch…I’ve never sent a tweet in my life.”

Farrelly’s combination of physical conditioning with retro anti-tech chic certainly distinguished  him from the throng of MPs present.

Who could blame Hugh?

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Leveson: the celebrity sham-trial

23/11/2011, 08:04:36 AM

by Dan Hodges

This will already be the hundredth article that you have read about her. She began the week as anonymous junior barrister Carine Patry Hoskins. Now she is the woman on the left, the vivacious/doe-eyed/comical (delete as appropriate), star of the Leveson investigation into phone hacking.

The unfortunate Ms Hoskins will no doubt  feature in the film of the book of the judicial inquiry. Indeed, both she and Hugh Grant will probably play themselves. Or if it is directed by David Lynch, each other.

Our brightest students will study her and the interrelationship between the courts, press, politicians and social media. “Monday, 21 November 2011 was the day the Twittersphere began to devour its own. Discuss”.

She will become the subject of debates about the law, feminism, class, love, longing, celebrity, privacy, voyeurism and the wisdom of cameras in the court room. Though I suspect that after yesterday there is about as much  chance of the latter as Ronnie Biggs finding himself called to the bench. “What does the woman on the left tell us about…” headlines are set to assail us from every side.

This is what she tells us. She tells us Leveson is a farce. (more…)

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