New Jez Honours

By DAVID WOODING

THERE have shocks and surprises galore in the corridors of power during 2015.

The Tories pipped Labour at the election winning post, the Lib Dems collapsed, Scottish nationalism triumphed and a little-known backbencher called Jeremy Corbyn became one of the most talked about politicians in the country.

Like the rest of them, he’s made us chuckle with a host of cock-ups and U-turns.

So let’s chill out and take a light-hearted look at the past year in Parliament with my New Jez Honours.1425551_10153174642391945_7409042168289219243_n

PANTO POLITICS PRIZE: Jeremy Corbyn for his starring role as Aladdin’s pal Wishy-Washy. Will he wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day? Oh, no, he won’t – oh, yes he will! Will he force Labour MPs to vote against air strikes on terrorists in Syria? Oh, yes, he will – oh, no, he won’t! Will he kneel before the Queen when he joins the Privy Council? Oh, no, he won’t – oh, yes, he will!

PANTO VILLAIN: George Osborne plays Baron Hardup by axing tax credits for three million low-paid families. Then the Chancellor pulled a fast one on Labour by giving claimants a last-minute reprieve.

HIS LEWDSHIP: Disgraced Lord Sewel took politics back into the sewer after being caught on film snorting cocaine with a pair of £200-a-night hookers at his flat. The deputy speaker was forced to quit his seat after being exposed by The Sun on Sunday – but will keep his title.

SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH AWARD: Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza clocked up a £230 bill keeping a chauffeur-driven car waiting four hours while she watched an opera a mile from Parliament. We’d like to see her Rigoletto that one.

TOFF IN THE SNOUTS AWARD: David Cameron for hogging the headlines after a book claimed he put his “private part” into a dead pig’s mouth as part of an outrageous student initiation ceremony. The PM got his own back, branding author Lord Ashcroft “a little p****”.

26560518303_8b33b2e613_oORDER OF THE GREEDY PIG: A special prize goes to aptly-named Tory Douglas Hogg who re-boarded the Westminster gravy train five years after being thrown off. He was forced to quit as an MP after claiming £2,200 expenses to clean his moat – but has been given a seat in the Lords.

LAZARUS PRIZE FOR POLITICAL COMEBACK: Anti-war campaigner Ken Livingstone has a new lease of life co-chairing Labour’s defence review. Now he says he’d accept a seat in the Lords – which he wants to abolish – if Mr Corbyn offers him one.

SHORTEST RESIGNATION: Nigel Farage keeps his promise to quit as Ukip leader if he fails to be elected as an MP – only to re-instate himself three days later, claiming the party’s ruling board refused to accept his resignation.

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PICTURE BY GARY STONE. 15/5/2015. DAVE WOODING INTERVIEWS UKIP LEADER NIGEL FARAGE. NIGEL ENJOYS A DRINK A ND A LAUGH WITH THE SUN’S DAVE WOODING IN THE GUINEA PUB.

REBEL OF THE YEAR: Ukip’s only MP Douglas Carswell made history by staging a one-man backbench rebellion against party leader Nigel Farage. Let’s hope there isn’t a split. He’d find that even more painful.

GOLDEN BLADDER AWARD: Speaker John Bercow, who sat through an 11-hour Commons debate on Syria without a loo break. But then he always was good at stopping government leaks.

GOLDEN BALLS-UP AWARD: Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls urged everyone get a receipt when paying a handyman cash for odd jobs. Then his window cleaner revealed he had never asked for one in 17 years.

GRAVEST MISTAKE: Ed Miliband spent £15,000 on an 8ft “gravestone” carved with six key pledges days before the general election. The Ed Stone made him a laughing stock – and buried his hopes of becoming PM.

KICK A MAN WHEN HE’S DOWN PRIZE: Six-year-old Daniel Miliband for bluntly telling his defeated dad: “You used to be famous.”

BIG BENN CLANGER OF THE YEAR: SNP MP George Kerevan for saying Tony Benn would be “turning in his grave” at his son Hilary’s passionate speech in favour of air strikes in Syria. His remarks enraged the family of the late Leftie icon – who was actually cremated.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, WAR IS OVER, DIPLOMA:  Diane Abbott, who spent a stormy meeting of Labour MPs, in which her ex-lover Jeremy Corbyn faced a barrage of criticism over his soft stance on terrorism, calmly signing her Christmas cards.

VANITY FAIR AWARD FOR SELFIE-EXPOSURE: SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond for missing a Commons debate on whether to launch air strikes on Syria so he could unveil a portrait of himself in Edinburgh. A Labour wag summed it up perfectly: “If Alex Salmond was chocolate, he’d eat himself.”

BOOKER PRIZE FOR BEING WELL RED: Labour’s John McDonnell stunned MP by quoting Chinese communist mass murderer Chairman Mao in the Commons. He pulled out a copy of the despot’s little red book, read a section and threw it to George Osborne. The Chancellor kept it. Expect to see it thrown back at McDonnell in 2016 – or auctioned to raise Tory funds.

GAFFE OF THE YEAR: David Cameron for mixing up the claret and blue of West Ham United with that of Aston Villa – the team he tells us he supports.

TORY OF THE YEAR: Russell Brand for helping David Cameron win the election by telling his army of young fans not to vote – then urging them to back Labour when it was too late to register.

GILLETTE AWARD FOR THE SHARPEST POLITICAL PUTDOWN: Union boss Sir Paul Kenny on George Osborne’s handling of the economy: “He’s claimed more recoveries in the past five years than the RAC.”

BARBIE MEDAL FOR FEMINISM: Harriet Harman for launching a national wide tour to attract more women voters – in a PINK battlebus. A Westminster wag quipped: “I wonder what she thinks of the make-up of the Cabinet? She’d probably say there’s not enough pink lipstick.”

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LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN MEDAL FOR SPORT: London Mayor Boris Johnson’s over-exuberance in a game of touch rugby went wrong when he flattened a poor ten-year-old boy. If you think that’s bad, just wait until the Tory leadership race starts.
PLAIN SPEAKING AWARD: Labour’s Chris Bryant complained there were too many posh people in the arts. Singer James Blunt tweeted: “You classic gimp…it is your populist, envy-based, vote-hunting ideas which make our country c**p, far more than me and my s*** songs and plummy accent.”

ROCKY BELT FOR PARLIAMENTARY PUNCH-UPS: Rookie Labour MP Jessica Phillips for telling Diane Abbott to “f*** off” after she pulled her up for criticising their leader. She revealed: “People said to me they had always wanted to say that to her, and I don’t know why they don’t as the opportunity presents itself every other minute.” Asked how Ms Abbott responded, she replied: “She f***ed off.”

GREENHOUSE GAS GONG:  Leftie singer Charlotte Church produced more hot air than global warming itself by blaming the war in Syria on…climate change.

TWITS OF THE YEAR: Labour MP David Lammy for tweeting: “Good luck to students waiting for there GCSE results today. Rooting for you!” Wonder what grade he got in English? Labour’s Helen Goodman, forced to apologise after tweeting this about the Health Secretary’s Chinese missus: “If China is so great why did Jeremy Hunt’s wife come to England?” The BBC numpty who sent a tweet suggesting Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke was asleep during a Commons debate – when he was leaning close to a speaker because he is partially deaf.

MBE – Mugs of the British Empire: All the pollsters for totally misjudging the mood of the nation – right up to 10pm on election day. At least there’s now someone less trustworthy than our politicians.

Happy New Year everyone, which ever of this bunch you support!

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William Hague’s off to Joliewood

By DAVID WOODING

CABINET quitter William Hague is set for a mega pay day – thanks to his friendship with Angelina Jolie.

The former Foreign Secretary has showbiz agents clamouring to sign him.

They are offering fees of at least £25,000 an hour to make after-dinner speeches.

And he is expected to land a series of six-figure book deals when he stands down as an MP in May.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Hague, 53, told me he plans to see much more of Hollywood star Angelina when his 26 years in politics end at the next election.

He also revealls how he gave his wife Ffion power of VETO to end his political career, FORGED a “most unusual” friendship with David Cameron and George Osborne and admits his chances of becoming PM were WRECKED because he won the Tory leadership when he was too young.

Big league

He admits that the world is his oyster when he exits the political stage. He said: “The responsibilities have been there day and night. I am quite looking forward to the change.”

His decision to go was made public when he quit as Foreign Secretary in July’s reshuffle. But he has kept his role fighting rape as a weapon of war alongside fellow campaigner Angelina.

William Hague

He said: “Our campaign will continue. I will do more work with Angelina.

“We are always in touch and the summit we held last month was no way the end of that.”

Asked about the involvement of her husband Brad Pitt in the campaign, he bristled: “Well, he came to show his support. But it’s HER campaign with ME. WE lead the campaign.

“Although some may think we are an unusual combination or alliance, it is an effective one.”

Mr Hague will start his lucrative life outside politics by writing a history book. He has already published two moneyspinners about William Wilberforce and Pitt — that’s William Pitt the Younger, not Brad.

In his last break from front-line politics he earned £820,000 for writing, speaking and TV appearances.

Now he is ready to enter the big league. Leading speakers’ agent JLE said: “He’d be on our top AA rate, where fees start at £25,000. His friendship with Angelina Jolie will only add to his attraction.”

Mr Hague said: “I will write mainly about history. It’s unlikely I’ll write my memoirs but not impossible.

I might write about some of my experiences but I am not one for writing nasty things about colleagues, nor have I noted down every ten minutes.

“But I don’t rule out writing something about my experiences about politics.”

The Yorkshireman is secretly hankering after a move to America. He said: “After Yorkshire, Montana is the next place in the world my spirit is at home … I dream of living on a ranch there.”

He’s also looking forward to spending more time with Ffion.

He said: “Ffion agrees it is time to go but she would have been supportive if I had said I want to be an MP for longer. I have been busy the whole 17 years we’ve been married but she hasn’t been asking me to step down.

“When I went back into front-line politics, I told her, ‘Whenever you want me to stop, I will stop.’ The decision was always in her hands.

“Spending more time with Ffion will be a very good side-effect of this decision.” Mr Hague burst on to the political stage as a 16-year-old, making a speech at a Tory conference. He was an MP before he was 28, in the Cabinet at 34 and party leader at 36. He had to take on Tony Blair when the Labour PM was at the peak of his popularity.

No regrets He reflected: “I was almost certainly too young to do it but I have never regretted taking it.”

William Hague

Despite the 2001 election defeat, he insists he has been proven right on three key issues — Labour DID raise taxes, immigration DID become a problem and joining the euro WOULD have been a disaster.

Mr Hague’s high point was passing the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act in his time as Minister for Disabled People. He said: “I did it all on the back of an envelope. I was on my way from America and I put it together on the plane, took it through Parliament and produced a landmark piece of legislation.”

He added: “From now to next May I am going to lead the House of Commons and help David Cameron win the next election.

“Between David, George Osborne and myself, we have had a most unusual connection and friendship … We are fortunate in the Conservative Party to have a lot of talented new people … which gives me confidence in saying it is time to move on.

“It is always better to step down when people wonder why you’ve done so, than a couple of years later when they wonder why you haven’t.” Continue reading

FAMILY DOCTORS ARE BACK…TO SOLVE A&E CRISIS

By DAVID WOODING
TRADITIONAL family doctors will to make a comeback under plans to tackle the A and E crisis.
GPs will be relieved of box-ticking chores and given more time to care for patients.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hopes it will divert A THIRD of people away from over-stretched casualty departments.
Up to 6.5 million people go straight to hospital because they can’t see their GP, chemist or paramadic.
But Mr Hunt believes the return of old-style family practitioner responsible for their patients 24/7 will ease the pressure.
ImageReforms to be unveiled this week will put GPs “back in the driving seat” of health care.
From next April, old and vulnerable patients will be guaranteed a “named” GP who knows their medical history.
It is the first step towards tearing up Labour’s controversial contract which he blames for queues outside A&E units.
The right will be rolled out to other groups over the next four years.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Mr Hunt said; “Since 2004, we’ve made it easier and easier to get into A&E and harder to go and see a GP.
“The average wait in an A&E is 50 minutes. Compare that with how hard it is to get an appointment with your GP when you phone up.
“It’s not because GPs aren’t working hard, it’s just that Labour changed the nature of their job.
“Now they are only responsible for people on their list when their doors are open. Once they close up shop it’s someone else’s job.”
Mr Hunt also wants to phase out targets will force GPs to take a certain number of blood pressure readings or ask people how much many they smoke or drink – whatever their ailment.
He said: “I’m not joking. They get paid by asking people on their list a series of questions and the taxpayer pays them. This is what the contract introduced.
“You get the situation where a patient comes in with a fever and the GP says I need to ask you 16 other questions. That’s got to change. You’ve got to feel when you see your GP that the GP is there for you and is looking at the whole of you.”
He stressed: “It’s not about saying GPs must work harder, it’s about changing the structure which makes it impossible for them to be the family doctors they wanted to be when they joined the profession.
“If you go to a GPs’ surgery now, it is like a mini A&E and some feel they are fending off the hoards at the gate and the moment the phone lines open there is a whole queue of people trying to get through.”
The pressure on GPs has in turn led to people going straight to casualty for out of hours problems that could be dealt with by a family doctor.
Seven in ten unplanned admissions are over-65s. They also take up more time because some have multiple conditions which a family doctor could deal with quicker.
Hospitals also feel the pressure on bed space because consultants are less willing to release a patient unless they are sure they have got care at home.
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Mr Hunt added: “There is a group of patients who most of the time probably shouldn’t be going to A&E at all and these are the people who we’d look after much better if we proactively supported them so they didn’t need to go to hospital in the first place.
“Labour’s GP contract changes in 2004 destroyed the personal link between patients and their GPs by abolishing named GPs. As a result we have too many forgotten old people being pushed from pillar to post between hospital, social care and their GP surgery.
“That is the biggest single thing we can do to make A&E sustainable going forward.”
Mr Hunt said his aim was to tackle health issues outside hospitals as well as inside.
He has introduced Ofsted-style ward inspections to prevent a repeat of the Mid-Staffs scandal.
But he added: “It is also about people being left alone who actually need our NHS to be there for them. This is what will transform the NHS in the long run and make it a sustainable organization.
“The changes I will announce next week will mean there is someone looking out for you them the whole time, someone from the NHS who is there for these people.”
But last night doctors’ leaders warned the plan would fail without extra funding.
Mike Pringle, president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “They are overwhelmed by the workload they are expected to deliver.
“We have got to start to build general practice, not blame it, not victimise it.
“We have to invest in it if we are going to solve these problems. And I am sure the Secretary of State recognises that.”

War on middle-lane hogs – just get on with it

By DAVID WOODING

With a fanfare of horns, ministers announced a crackdown on selfish motorway drivers who hog the middle lane and don’t move over for faster cars. 

They’ll be fined £100 and have three penality points slapped on their licence under new rules being drawn up by Transport Minister Stephen Hammond.

A great eye-catching idea to get Britain moving, you may think. But forgive me for wondering if, like so many well-received initiatives, this will never happen.

Labour came up with the same popular idea years ago – and it died a death on the hard shoulder of policy-making.

Back in June 2005, then roads minister David Jamieson announced he was determined to halt the selfish practice which causes congestion, accidents and road rage.

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He also asked the Highways Agency to explore the possibility of using the variable message signs on motorways to encourage middle lane hogs to move over.

Police already have power to stop motorists for poor lane discipline and have the power to prosecute if they consider a driver’s behaviour amounts to inconsiderate driving.

The Highway Code states: ‘You should drive in the left-hand lane if the road ahead is clear.”

The habit of hogging the middle lane on motorways, regardless of conditions, was labelled as one of the top ten menaces on the road in an RAC report.

So, full marks to Mr Hammond for taking up this issue. But get your foot down, sir, and please don’t pull off at the next exit.

And forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

PM lacks full public confidence in tackling terror

By DAVID WOODING
BRITAIN today delivers a damning verdict on David Cameron’s handling of the terrorist threat.
Six in ten people have no confidence in the PM’s response to the crisis and fear he will have little real impact.
Most doubt he has the authority within his party – or the coalition – to take the decisive action needed.
And more than half say he was wrong to jet off on holiday three days after soldier Lee Rigby was murdered.
Serious doubts over Mr Cameron’s reaction to the Woolwich attack are revealed in an exclusive Survation poll published in The Sun today.
Alarmingly, even Tory voters are split over whether his action plan will make the country any safer.
They want him to take a much tougher line, locking up fanatics who provoke violence and sending terrorist suspects back where they came from.
Mr Cameron has vowed to muzzle hate-preachers and stop them spreading their poison in schools, colleges and prisons.
He will head a new task force of MI5 chiefs, cops and religious leaders to tackle extremism and radicalisation.
But a massive 60 per cent of people don’t believe his plan will have a real impact on the problem.
And even more – 63 per cent – do not have full confidence in the PM’s overall handling of the terrorist threat.
But 54 per cent DO have confidence in MI5’s ability to protect them from terrorist attack.
Deserting
Survation chief executive Damian Lyons Lowe said: “At a time when the public are looking for leadership, David Cameron appears a little too chillaxed.
“It is difficult for him to be seen as acting decisively when it doesn’t look as though he has control of his own party, let alone the Coalition.”
Mr Cameron’s decision to fly to Ibiza with his family has clearly dented confidence in his, the poll suggests.
Some 56 per cent said he should have put off the sunshine jaunt and stayed in London to deal with the crisis personally.
Only 36 per cent think he was right to take a family holiday.
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Tory supporters are deserting Mr Cameron in droves and flocking to UKIP.
A quarter of those who voted Conservative in 2010 now plan to vote for Nigel Farage’s anti-EU party.
Support for UKIP among the over-54s – those most likely to turn out at an election – is a whopping 25 per cent.
Tories now lag nine points behind Labour as the party people are most likely to vote for.
The poll puts them on 25 per cent, with Labour at 36, UKIP on 20 and the Lib Dems in fourth place on ten.
Seven out of ten people think the UK government should deport foreign criminals while their appeal are ongoing.
And 56 per cent say Britain places too much emphasis on protecting freedom of speech and not enough tackling incitement.
Nearly four in ten – 38 per cent – believe attempts to kick out hate preacher Abu Qatada will fail and he will stay here indefinitely.
Only 24 per cent think he will be forcibly extradited to Jordan by the government.
Despite huge condemnation from the Muslims over Drummer Rigby’s murder, most people believe they are not outspoken enough.
Six in ten think Islamic communities have been too complacent and need to do more about the threat of hate preachers and extremism.
This compares with 26 per cent who believe they have been trying hard and doing all they can to combat the peril.
NUMBER CRUNCHING
Poll highlights:
State of the parties: Con 25 (+1), Lab 36 (+1), UKIP 20 (-2), Lib Dem 10 (no change)
What is your assessment of level of terrorist threat?
Very/serious 55, Moderate threat 39, None 6.
Confidence in Cameron’s proposals to have a real impact.
Yes 25, No 60, Don’t know 14.
David Cameron lacks  authority in his party to take decisive action.
Yes 56, No 34, Don’t know 11.
David Cameron’s holiday in Ibiza.
Should have postponed 55, Right to go 36, Don’t know 9.
Confidence in Cameron’s handling of terror threat.
No 63, Yes, 27, Don’t know 10.
Muslim communities need to do more about threat of hate preachers 60 per cent. Doing all they can 26, Don’t know 14.
Abu Qatada will be forcibly extradited 24
He will return to Jordan voluntarily 20
He will remain in UK indefinitely 38.
Don’t know 17.
Survation conducted its survey by online panel on May 30, 2013. It polled 1,007 adults aged 18+ in England, Scotland and Wales.

The unwitting wit of the Irony Lady

By DAVID WOODING
STRAIT-laced Maggie Thatcher often had her staff in fits of laughter with saucy one-liners – without knowing why.
The three times PM, who died last week, was first to admit she wasn’t a natural wit and never quite grasped a double meaning.
Her dry sense of humour was a nightmare for speech writers who feared she might fluff the punchlines.
But some of her best and most hilarious gags were delivered unintentionally.
Her prim and proper upbringing led to a string of unwitting quips on the world stage which left her aides stifling their giggles.
Most famously, she once paid tribute to her loyal deputy Willie Whitelaw by remarking: “Every Prime Minister needs a Willie.”
Clanger
On another occasion, she was puzzled when guests roared at her after-dinner speech as she described how a distinguished colleague had met his wife while “on the job”.
Troops were close to tears when she made  a flying visit to the Falkland Islands after the defeat of the invading Argentine army in 1982.
She was invited to sit in the range-finder’s seat astride a large piece of field artillery.
“Is it safe?” she asked her military hosts before adding innocently: “Or will it jerk me off?”
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Mrs Thatcher naively dropped a similar clanger while inspecting garden implements on a flying visit to a hardware shop in Fulham, south west London.
She picked up a large trowel and said: “I’ve never seen a tool as big as that before.”
A journalist recalled: “We all started sniggering and she gave us all disapproving looks, which made it even worse.”
Lady T was a stickler for buying British and tore into journalists who used Japanese tape recorders during interviews.
She even made them open their jackets to check whether their suits had come from Italy or Hong Kong – and would give offenders one of her infamous “hand-baggings”.
Shortly after moving into 10 Downing Street, she posed for pictures with her husband Denis. A brave reporter asked: “Who wears the trousers in this house?”
Quick as a flash, Denis replied: “I do. And I wash and iron them, too.”

Crumbs! Now they’re attacking our daily bread

By DAVID WOODING
BREAD will have all the goodness taken out of it under barmy new food rules.
Ministers want to remove calcium, iron and other nutrients from the baking process.
They have been added to white bread flour for the past 65 years to protect the nation’s health.
But the coalition wants to ditch the legal requirement to make our loaves more wholesome.
Experts warned the move could harm the health of struggling families living on the breadline by depriving young kids of the vitamins they need.
The laws were brought in during the post-war ration years to get a hungry nation back on its feet.
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Bakers were required to add calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin to all their bread.
The rules have stayed in place and apply to all white flour products – including hot cross
buns.
But the coalition is consulting on tearing up the 1947 regulations, even though none of the producers has asked for it.
Federation of Bakers boss Gordon Polson said: “Removing these nutrients would have a significant detrimental affect on the health of the nation.”
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh added: “It is crazy to think of removing vitamins from our bread in the middle of a recession.
“Many families struggling to provide food on the table during these tough times may not be able to afford to get these key nutrients any other way.
Cheap
“Our children are eating less fresh fruit and vegetables than five years ago and it’s imperative that the government keeps these valuable nutrients in their daily bread.”
Britons munch their way through 12 million loaves every day – three-quarters of them white bread.
Bread is still one of our favourite foods, with 99 per cent of families buying it regularly.
If the rules are changed, some fear shops will be flooded with cheap white bread stripped of any goodness.
Experts from the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, predict it will have a bad impact on young women and the poor.
In a report, they warn: “The impact of removing the mandatory addition of nutrients to flour could be greater in low income groups.”
A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The flour rules are from the post-war period when diets were poorer. But as healthy food is much more widely available now we’re checking whether legislation and red tape are still necessary.”