Posts Tagged ‘Royal Wedding’

Saturday News Review

30/04/2011, 06:51:12 AM

A nation celebrates

David Cameron, still in his morning suit, tucked into cake and posed for pictures at the No10 celebration. Guests included actress Barbara Windsor, schoolchildren and charity fundraisers, young and old. The PM said: “It’s been an amazing day.” In Anglesey, North Wales, where Prince William serves at the RAF base, thousands partied in a showground. One reveller said: “I expect William won’t be at the pub’s quiz night with his friends as often now he’s married.” Coronation Street star William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, joined 300 friends and neighbours in Wilmslow, Cheshire. In ­Southampton, Michaela Coutakis, 45, dressed in patriotic colours, said: “We’re not royalists but it’s bringing the ­country together. We will remember this when we’re old and grey. She looked absolutely stunning.” Outside the royal residence of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, people enjoyed picnics and drank bubbly on the lawn where six large TVs showed the wedding. Mother Amanda Mann, 40, said: “You can’t put a price on memories like today.” – Daily Express

While the nation readies itself for mass jubilation tomorrow as Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot, Downing Street too has got in on the act – with a little bit of bunting. Perhaps the Government didn’t want to give the wrong impression in these times of austerity as the bunting budget clearly didn’t stretch very far. There may have been no signs of Union Flags or George Crosses outside – but it was a different matter inside. Larry the cat – brought in to deal with a rodent problem – was seen sporting a very patriotic bow tie ahead of the No.10 street party. Sitting on the Cabinet table, wearing his little Union Flag number, he looked as happy as, well, Larry – but let’s hope he won’t be called on for his official rat-catching duties tomorrow. The usually cordoned-off street will host a party for 100 revellers to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Guests for the do are mostly pensioners chosen by local charities and Save The Children. As well as tucking into home-made cupcakes – which Samantha Cameron helped to bake – they will be entertained with games. To get in the mood for the big day, David Cameron took a stroll along The Mall this evening and met well-wishers. He also re-visited the spot where he camped out at for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. – Daily Mail

Dave says “They have no right to stop you having fun”

An unofficial street party in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park was descending into violence tonight as police stuggled to cope with a crowd of thousands of revellers. Hundreds of thugs threw missiles at officers and at least three cops were injured. Two teenagers had organised the rave in on Facebook on the back of a pledge from PM David Cameron, who hit out at spoilsport councils for blocking parties with red tape. However trouble flared after the plug was pulled more than three hours early on the unofficial event, amid rising tensions and scuffles inside and outside the park. Many of the 4000-strong crowd at the bash were boozing heavily and attacked officers as they tried to split up a fight. The event was organised after David Cameron attacked “pen pushers and busybodies” for thwarting royal wedding celebrations. The PM said : “They have no right to stop you from having fun. I am the Prime Minister and I am telling you if you want to have a street party, you go ahead and have one.” – Daily Record

Police condemned “irresponsible” drunkenness after arresting 21 people when violence broke out at an unauthorised Glasgow park rave to coincide with the royal wedding. One officer was taken to hospital with a head injury after police moved in to break up the unofficial party in Kelvingrove Park, and police say more arrests could be made as they study video footage. More than 4000 revellers, mostly in their teens and early-twenties, converged on the beauty spot yesterday and the majority were drinking. Glasgow City Council, which now has to mount a huge clean- up operation, had warned against the unofficial party and urged people to find a “safer alternative” way to celebrate. JJ Gardner, 19, one of two students who organised the event, spreading the word through social networking sites, said: “David Cameron said people wanting to organise street parties should forget the red tape. That’s what we’re doing.” – Daily Herald

Hain has a howler

Crude politics has intruded on the Royal Wedding after all, and all courtesy of Peter Hain. The Shadow Welsh Secretary has complained — on Twitter, naturally — that the BBC’s coverage of the event dwelt too long on David Cameron and Nick Clegg, and ignored Ed Miliband. “BBC airbrushing Labour like the Palace?” he asked leadingly. The Tory minister David Jones has since admonished him, “time, place, Peter.” If Labour have much sense they’ll play this down as efficiently as possible. Miliband, it is true, barely featured in the television coverage — but that’s really beside the point. It is rarely smart politics to take on the Palace at any time. Yet on the day of the Royal Wedding it’s just downright foolish. Hain’s outburst may not have been the official party line, but he is still a shadow cabinet member, and his leader could have lived without this embarrassment. – the Spectator

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was rebuked by Labour bosses yesterday after accusing the BBC of political bias in its coverage of the royal wedding. He also appeared to attack the royal family when he took to social networking site Twitter to complain there had been far fewer television shots of Labour leader Ed Miliband during the course of the coverage than of Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg. Mr Hain tweeted: “Loads of TV coverage of Cameron and Clegg at wedding but none of Ed. BBC airbrushing Labour like the palace?” The second line is a reference to former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown not being invited to the wedding, unlike other living former premiers Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major. Responding to Mr Hain’s comments, a senior Labour source said: “The last thing Ed and Justine [Thornton, Mr Miliband’s fiancee] are worried about is getting on television on William and Kate’s big day. It should just be about them. No-one should be trying to make a political row on this day of celebration.” – Western Mail

A day to bury bad news

Labour has accused health bosses of burying bad news on royal wedding day when it emerged that the health regulator Monitor had predicted hospitals would have to make efficiency savings up to 50% higher than previously envisaged. Monitor, in a letter to NHS foundation trusts dated 27 April and released on Thursday, said the higher efficiency savings were partly due to inflation rising above predicted levels. Monitor oversees NHS foundation trusts and assesses applications for foundation status. It is due to become the overall regulator for the whole of the NHS under the government shakeup. It suggested average savings of up to 7% a year may be required in the acute sector over the next five years, compared with the 4% called for by the Department of Health as part of efforts to slash £20bn from running costs. – the Guardian

John Healey, the shadow health secretary, raised questions over the timing of an official announcement that hospitals may need to make savings far greater than those already planned. He said the statement by Monitor, that leading hospitals must make savings of up to 7 per cent a year, proved that the reorganisation of the NHS and cost-cutting plans are putting the system under “huge strain”. Mr Healey said: “With all eyes on the Royal Wedding, the Government is trying to bury bad news on the NHS. This confirms the combination of broken promises on NHS funding and reorganisation is putting a huge strain on hospitals. David Cameron must halt his high-risk, high cost overhaul of the NHS. The Prime Minister promised to protect the NHS but his health policies are piling extra pressure on health services, and patients are starting to see the NHS going backwards again under the Tories.” In plans established under Labour, the NHS must make efficiency savings of 4 per cent of its budget by 2015, totaling £20billion. Many trusts have already announced job cuts and service reductions, although ministers want them to concentrate on reducing waste. But Monitor, which oversees the 137 leading hospitals known as Foundation Trusts, has warned them that they may need to make savings of at least 50 per cent more than initially thought.  – Daily Telegraph

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WillKat wedding trumped: Murphy shocks Alexander to take league lead

29/04/2011, 07:35:23 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Royal wedding? What royal wedding? The big news today is that the shadow cabinet work-rate league has a new leader. For the first time since this shadow cabinet was formed, Douglas Alexander has been knocked-off top spot.

The new leader is Jim Murphy who has sustained an amazing work-rate to surge past Alexander.

In a month with limited Parliamentary activity because of recess, Murphy still managed to land yet another urgent question – the third in seven weeks. And outside of Parliament, on the media front, while Alexander posted a respectable two releases, Murphy churned out nine.

It’s not clear where William and Kate’s personal allegiances lie in this defining contest but these dramatic developments are likely to be the talk of the wedding banquet.

It is understood that royal insiders had been concerned for weeks that Murphy moving into the lead would knock the wedding off the nation’s front pages and captivate the public’s attention. (more…)

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Ma’am, show we poor lefties you care

28/04/2011, 09:48:50 AM

by Kevin Meagher

WELL that’s gratitude for you.

The news that both our former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been missed off the guest-list for Wills and Kate’s nuptials, while Conservatives John Major and Margaret Thatcher are included, takes the biscuit.

It seems Tone and Gordo (unlike Thatcher and Major) are not Knights of the Garter and as such get bumped from the official invite list. If it was a full state occasion then they would get the nod. But it isn’t (apparently), so they don’t.

After that little favour we did the Royals 14 years ago, you would think they could show a bit more appreciation.

If you recall, it was a bit more than lending them a lawnmower of feeding the cat while they went on holiday. Our Tony saved the Monarchy from the car crash of their reaction to the car crash that killed Diana.

The royals’ dismal, off-key response to the tragic death of Princess Di in 1997 whipped up more public vituperation against the Monarchy than anything we have seen since the ghastly Edward VIII ran off with Wallis Simpson back in the days of black and white newsreel.

But how quickly they forget. Now they are on the up with a popular royal wedding (involving the only consistently popular member of the clan) all we get is a right royal “stuff off”. And not just to one Labour ex-Prime Minister, but two.

The first may well have been carelessness, a second is a definite snub. Ok, spouses would need to go as well so that takes up four seats. And Westminster Abbey can be a bit pokey, but when the place is going to be full of dodgy geezers (“bums” in the Daily Mail’s diplomaticspeak) then squeezing in a couple of former prime ministers is not a big ask; especially as Conservative former PMs are invited.

Blimey, even the Mail’s Stephen Glover is incensed at the effrontery of it. Quite right. 1,900 people are invited including, as Glover puts it: “some pretty unsavoury foreign leaders, as well as some rackety private individuals”. It would be equally appalling if the boot had been on the other foot and Maggie and Major had been left off.

Please. If they can find room for ‘film-maker’ Guy Ritchie then I hate to suggest it, but the bar is set pretty low. (more…)

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What America really thinks of William and Kate

25/04/2011, 03:30:54 PM

by Jonathan Todd


“I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years? We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors”.

With such jokes, Russell Brand, as host of the MTV awards, initiated what is becoming an Anglo-American tradition: the cheeky Brit at a major American award ceremony. Ricky Gervais followed up at the Golden Globes this year. These comedians aren’t short of lines ripping George W Bush, but what assurance can we have that the British head of state can be trusted with a pair of scissors? Or even know what scissors are?

We can, of course, have no such guarantee. Birth right determines our head of state, irrespective of their abilities with scissors or other qualities. In contrast, the commander-in-chief is subject to the most gruelling of recruitment procedures. This fundamental difference between our monarchy and their republic convinces me that no matter what wise cracks Brand may make and how many William and Kate themed souvenirs American tourists may buy, ultimately, Americans are laughing at us. The idea of Donald Trump being president is preposterous, but selecting our head of state by birth is infinitely more so. (more…)

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The tonnes of bad news the Tories tried to bury yesterday

17/11/2010, 07:22:33 AM

by Tom Watson

David Cameron’s press team didn’t just bury bad news yesterday, they built a mass grave and emptied a juggernaut of trash into it.

Back in January, Cameron proclaimed he would “end the culture of spin”. Even at the time, people sniggered. If he said it now, they’d fall about laughing.

Yesterday, the government released masses of information that in normal circumstances would have led the news today. Royal marriages are once in a generation after all.

The manner in which the announcements poured out yesterday was cynical, determined and ruthless. Will the government get away with it? Probably.

Our only response must be to deconstruct each announcement in detail and deal with it in slow time.

Take a look at what the government said:

Civil servant vanity photographer, Andy Parsons, was sacked and immediately rehired by Tory central office. He was joined by civil servant film maker Nicky Woodhouse. This is a humiliation for the prime minister. A degrading admission that he got it wrong – despite the advice of civil servants responsible for propriety and ethics in government.

In what appears to be a hurried statement, Ken Clarke announced to the House of Commons that he had reached an out of court settlement to pay the Guantamano Bay prisoners a secret amount of compensation running into millions of pounds. On a normal news cycle, journalists would be demanding to know how much and whether the prisoners received more than the 7/7 survivors were given in compensation.

The governor of the bank of England formally wrote to the government that it is a “concern that inflation is above target”. Which will be exacerbated next month when VAT is increased and petrol prices rise as a result. Ordinarily, white van men would be interviewed on petrol station forecourts up and down the land. Not yesterday.

And then Greater Manchester police announced that comprehensive spending review cuts would result in 1,387 uniformed police posts being axed, sending shockwaves around other police services in the country. Actually, this figure is so shocking that I suspect reaction to it will be reported for days and weeks to come in the north west. But it won’t be leading the front pages nationally. That would have been today.

Then there was the Redfern report – the one that tells the full scale of the nuclear industry’s old habit of secretly harvesting the body parts of nuclear workers without informing their loved ones. Imagine how on a normal news day this announcement would play out. Nuclear workers’ body parts systematically and secretly harvested for forty years? Even the Daily Mail might raise its eyebrows at that. On any other day.

When it comes to spin, Andy Coulson makes Alastair Campbell look like the eccentric old dame who volunteers to photocopy the parish magazine, such is his attention to the detail of news management. “We talk about our stories in great detail prior to publication”, Andy Coulson told the UK Press Gazette back in 2005. I can imagine his media grid meetings, stuffed with press officers and light on policy makers. They get great stories from the compliant Murdoch press but serious lobby journalists are picking up on the shallowness of their plans. It is for the opposition front bench rigorously to analyse each announcement.

We – her Imperial Majesty’s loyal opposition – must grin a bear days like yesterday and today. Our duty is to find loose strands of argument and pull at them. We already know from the child benefit debacle that this is a government that doesn’t want to be distracted by the detail. And that’s exactly how things begin to unravel for governments.

We know why detailed analysis of spun stories ultimately works for an opposition, because we suffered the consequences of it. There are countless examples where a tactical press announcement boiled over and left us in the stew.

When Tony Blair announced that all the people interned by the Japanese in the second world war would receive compensation, he was hailed as hero by the press the next day. There followed years of misery as lawyers, pressure groups and the public administration select committee argued with the MoD over the detail. What constituted citizenship? What level of proof was required to qualify for a payment, and so on. Lack of detail at the outset cost hundreds if not thousands of hours of misery for the poor civil servants who dealt with it.

Pulling at the strands of over-spun coalition announcement will tangle this administration up, leaving ministers over-burdened by the detritus of Number 10’s cynical spinners.

You probably won’t read as much as you should about Andy Parsons in today’s newspaper. But, make no mistake, we inflicted a defeat on the government yesterday. We did so because, after months of probing, we got to the facts, and David Cameron over-reached himself.

The genius of opposition is the devil of government: the detail. Yesterday’s lesson for our front bench is clear: read the small print.

Tom Watson is Labour MP for West Bromwich East.

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