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Nick Robinson | 08:17 UK time, Tuesday, 22 July 2008

I began a spot of moonlighting presenting the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning. Feeling pretty smug at not messing up I emerged from the studio to be told that I'd spent the whole of a discussion about a possible cure for cancer referring to prostrate instead of prostate cancer. One e-mailer has already quipped that my new disease is presumably caught from too much lying down. No, it comes from getting up much much too early.

Lucky I'm not giving up the day job.

PS. You can watch Evan Davis and me reviewing today's programme here.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Ha ha haj! That's a good one this morning Nick.

    Long walks in the forest are the best cure.

    Have a nice day Nick!

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick and Evan Today dream team this morning!

  • Comment number 3.

    Clearly its labours fault that you got it wrong ;-)

  • Comment number 4.

    Its not as though you never get anything wrong, is it Nick? ;)

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    We all make mistakes Nick. Don't worry, Gordon is still way ahead of you.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good job this morning Nick. It's a shame you won't be presenting more often as I enjoyed your style of interviewing. You also complement Evan very well - an economics and a political commentator are a good combo. You two are also far less aggressive in tone than Sue, Ed, Jim and John. It's a technique which can easily catch your opponent off guard eg Evan Davies and Alan Johnson interview a few weeks ago was superb "you've first began a consultation on pensions back in 1999 and only NOW you have come up with some proposals". A great interview.

  • Comment number 8.

    Any one can add an extra "r" into a word by mistake ie prostate to prostrate

    It's a good job you weren't talking about "shirts" in government !!!

  • Comment number 9.


    You and Evan were the dream team this morning; and I quite enjoyed hearing you talk about prostrate cancer. It just shows you're human like the rest of us!

    I really enjoyed you both on the Today programme and hope this isn't the last time we hear you.

  • Comment number 10.

    Forget about it Nick, at least your mistakes won't ruin Britain

  • Comment number 11.

    Are you on tomorrow? I must listen. I have given up on the usual mob. Far too smug!

  • Comment number 12.

    Nick, isn't sad that even when having a bit of fun some people cant leave party politics out of it.
    Well Nick there's one thing for certain your not alone ,I and many others on these blogs make worse gaffs than that, its nice that we can still have a laugh although prostate cancer is a killer, although I think there's probably a few on here suffering from your new disease.

  • Comment number 13.

    Enjoyed your presenting this morning Nick.

  • Comment number 14.


    here fishy fishy fishy

    As the only one who mention a party I guess you have taken the bait.

    You really need to get a sense of humour.

    definition of Irony: humour based on using words to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning

  • Comment number 15.


    On further revue maybe your comment swere directed at #10

    and i am suffering from Paranoia:extreme and unreasonable suspicion of other people and their motives

  • Comment number 16.

    Carry on making gaffes like this and you'll be next up for prime minister.

    Failing that, you can be a trusted error prone advisor to grandantidote.

  • Comment number 17.

    If you're in to moonlighting, Nick, how about bolstering auntie's resources in Glasgow East? With Brian off on his hols and Michael chasing the dreaded Campbell (A), how about something from the front line?

  • Comment number 18.

    15 pot kettle You got it right after two attempts, on the other hand , not your obvious irony in this instance but irony seems to be frequently used as an excuse on these blogs.

  • Comment number 19.

    re: 12

    How sanctimonious can you get? As usual you're just looking for reasons to be offended! And thank you for reminding us that prostate cancer is a killer, as if we didn't know.

  • Comment number 20.


    We agree on something!
    Irony is used (too) frequently as an excuse.

    I read Nicks post this morning and wondered how we were going to manage a debate on something so mundane.

    Ok back to hostilities. I think i'll go for Nicks last comment "Lucky i'm not giving up the day job"
    What job is that exactly chief governmental plate spinner?

  • Comment number 21.

    re: 19

    Nah I was a bit harsh there. I know that you mean well grandantidote, it's just that you're too trusting for your own good and so you've been completely deluded by the spin machine. At best your posts are interesting, at worst they read like they've been written by the Labour PR team. Don't worry though, you'll get wiser with time.

  • Comment number 22.

    re: 20

    Yep I think so. Nick's posts too often lean towards Labour. Still, I wouldn't say he was a red-rosetted ventriloquist's dummy, unlike some on this board!

  • Comment number 23.

    Not as bad as the slip up I made in mixed company Nick.

    Could have disappeared through the floor when someone pointed out I'd been talking about 'orgasms' instead of 'organisms'

    Wondered why they were all creased up.

  • Comment number 24.

    How about the SATS marking fiasco?

    Ed Balls performance on this one has been more "Freddie Starr" than "Rising Star".

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't listen normally, but by chance I as listening this morning and you weren't half bad ... all the usual presenters on holiday then and you got drafted in?

    Still, it's good to have two 10 O'Clock heavyweights in the chair.

  • Comment number 26.

    Can't stand it! TWO presenters who know the answers (and have opinions) before the question is answered!

  • Comment number 27.

    It would be quite unforgivable if you referred to Gordon Brown as Gordon Drown!

  • Comment number 28.

    Prostrate eh ? ... I remember as a young lad, sitting on a bus hearing one middle aged lady telling another all the details of her sister's Hysterical Rectum....

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't worry Nick, you're not the first person to talk about prostrate cancer, and I'm sure you won't be the last.

  • Comment number 30.

    No, Nick, it's not "you can watch Evan Davis and I" it's "you can watch Evan Davis and ME". You wouldn't say "you can watch I", would you?

  • Comment number 31.

    I have just seen the review video and am horrified. How are we supposed to take seriously people who do not wear stiff white collars are suits? This is not Radio One you know. Next you will be telling me R4 announcers don't wear dinner jackets in the evening any more. Is nothing sacred?

  • Comment number 32.

    I am more and more convinced as to the problems in this country. Whatever happened to the freedom of the press. Exactly how many injunctions are there going around. Can we have full details of the moderators, they know who we are, who are these censors?

  • Comment number 33.

    30. At 1:28pm on 22 Jul 2008, Dickydoughnut wrote:
    No, Nick, it's not "you can watch Evan Davis and I" it's "you can watch Evan Davis and ME". You wouldn't say "you can watch I", would you?

    Complain about this comment

  • Comment number 34.

    Yes, I quite enjoyed hearing about prostrate cancer. I couldn't help wondering when there might be a breakthrough in upright cancer.

  • Comment number 35.


    You resurrected a long lost tradition with the morning news which I - for one - miss since we lost the great Jack Demanio (sp-?).
    Like getting the time check wrong by exactly one hour.
    Like referring to the late African President Ndabaninghi Setole as "Rubber Dinghy Setole".

    (Sigh - happy days!)

  • Comment number 36.


    We all make mistakes and i will read this blog later....

  • Comment number 37.

    21 Powertotheppl , I wondered what I had said to rattle your cage you say I will get wiser as I get older well what year was it that Margaret Thatcher closed down the mines overnight, well that was the year I got wiser, I had been getting wiser by the month previous to that but as they say thats when I got my smarts.
    Previous to that I had voted Tory I regret to say but like you say older and wiser.
    The only spin machine I've ever been confused by [not deluded] is the one that dries the washing thats why I leave my wife in control of it,
    As for my posts reading like a Labour PR team, then I thank you for that, as long as I dont start writing like the "I'am not a tory brigade".

  • Comment number 38.

    16 robin jd other than to say this you are a self opinionated apology for a educated man are'nt you, dont bother to come back at me on this I have never professed to be educated but I am pretty sure I am way obove you and your snide remarks when it comes to intelligence.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have to say it was a rather good combination.
    Evan is absolutely excellent and understanding economics he doesnot let rubbish pass unchallenged.
    Your political analysis is always worth hearing - even when I dont agree. But dont give up the day job, particularly when you are annoying the MPs over their inflated allowances and bruising their egos by forcing them to account.
    All the best from Fife!

  • Comment number 41.

    re: 37

    grandantidote, this government is worse than the Tories ever were (and yes I am going to say it again, I'm not a Tory). The Tories stabbed us in the front, but that's better than being stabbed in the back like this lot are doing. Besides the lack of ideas, selective blindness, ineptitude and sleaze, soon we'll all be forced onto a biometric database 'for own security' and then what'll happen? Oh yes, they'll spy on us 'for our own security' and then someone will hack into the database or they'll lose the data. Chances of this happening: 100 percent. They cannot be trusted at all! Under this government I am genuinely afraid. Anyway, to finish on a lighter note, here's a joke just for you:

    Q:How many Labour MPs does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: None, they just buy a new house at our expense

  • Comment number 42.

    #38 grandantidote

    Thanks for the compliment.

    So for the record (as you seem to enjoy evidence based analysis)....

    When did NewLabour invade Iraq?
    When did NewLabour allow Railtrack to go bust?
    When did NewLabour stitch up Rover and sell it to the Chinese for a song?
    When did the newLabour health secretary get booed by an NHS nurses conference?
    When did NewLabour increase tax on the poorest?
    When did the first bank go bust for 140 years?
    When did Gordon Brown sell all our gold?
    When did Gordon Brown rob the pension system?
    When did the Metronet PFI go bust?
    When did NewLabour propose that the slackers went back to work?
    When did the budget deficit reach its highest level since 1946 (and who was in power then)?

    When is Gordon Brown going to provide some of the leadership or management skills required to do his job?

    When are the apologists for NewLabour going to accept they have made a complete hash of the country's finances?

    Sorry grandantidote but, education or no, I merely present the facts of the NewLabour maladministration of these sceptered isles. (and that institution will outlast anything NewLabour has to offer)

  • Comment number 43.

    grandantidote - if you're going to snipe about being more intelligent than others, you might want to spellcheck your posts.

    Nick, prostrate cancer? Oh dear oh dear

  • Comment number 44.

    Didn't hear this unfortunately, but it reminds me of the famous broadast in which a presenter referred to a young people's detention centre as a 'penile dustbin'.

    Still, glad fewer police forces are dispersing crowds with bird shot.

  • Comment number 45.

    41 power to the ppl, I'm afraid that you are being almost uncontrolably paraniod you most try to get a grip, I am not going to go into all the points you mention they've been debated here many times with neither side being convinced by the other.
    Its obvious to me that your paranioa is so rampant that to even try to reason with you would be pointless,maybe another day when your blood pressure has returned to normal.

    Q how many conservative MPs does it take to change a light bulb?

    A,none they just move into Mummy and Daddies over a million pound home while the get some serfs like you and I to go to their over a million pound home to do it for them.

  • Comment number 46.


    If you had to add an extra letter, I guess it is approriate you made an 'r's of it.

    Re some of the resultant exchanges, is there nothing unpolitical and light-hearted enough to avoid snide and paranoid political exhanges in response ?

    Lighten up.

  • Comment number 47.

    43 bradshad 1 Perhaps you should look to your self or dont you know that you dont have to educated to be intelligent if my way of writing indicated I came from the west country the north or the eastend try Colin Pillinger for a example. It would not indicate that I was unintelligent, it might be obvious that I had a poor education and that my grammer left much to be desired but I am pretty sure that my manual abilities which require intelligence are probably a mile ahead of yours.and I would love to have some of you smart alecs on herer that try to belittle me in a general knowledge test. What else can you do other than construct a reasonably grammaticaly correct letter?and criticise those that had a poorer education than yourself.

  • Comment number 48.

    re: 45

    Lol, being a Labour stooge, 'you would say that wouldn't you.' I'll bet you're really one of Brown/Darling/Harman/Blears etc's many personas...

    re: 46

    I'm afraid not Only Jocking, we're the kind of people who spend too much time on political messageboards. Pretty much everyone on here is paranoid (justifiably so, like myself) or bonkers (like grandantidote). It is in our nature to be so. Might as well ask a dog not to chase cats as ask us to refrain from snide and paranoid political exchanges!

  • Comment number 49.


    "Q how many conservative MPs does it take to change a light bulb?

    A,none they just move into Mummy and Daddies over a million pound home while the get some serfs like you and I to go to their over a million pound home to do it for them."

    Pathetic but illuminating.

  • Comment number 50.

    42 Robin jd you present what you percieve to be the facts,
    When did the Tories destroy the mining industry,
    When did the tories sell the railways in a hurry at a ridiculous price,
    I could go on but whats the point, half of your questions are not valid anyway and I dont have time to play your game. My point to you was that its just that you cant resist the grammar thing and it merely discredits you rather than me.
    I might add that in my rather long life I have become aware that it only takes one sentence to ask a question but it might take a book to answer it.

  • Comment number 51.

    49 u11714077, pathetic yes but better than 45 Power to the ppl,

  • Comment number 52.

    My issue is, like all of your party, grandantidote, you fail to answer for your own track record.

    You are the ones who have been in charge for eleven years and you will have to address this at the next election when no-one wil be playing games.

    Good luck.

  • Comment number 53.

    re: 52

    RobinJD has a point grandantidote, you defend Labour's seedy past without looking at the facts. You might as well answer all criticism with 'LA LA LA I CAN"T HEAR YOU!' or 'WIBBLE WOBBLE JELLY ON A PLATE!'

  • Comment number 54.

    Prostrate instead of prostate cancer? Well at least we know why the UK has one of the lowest survival rates in the developed world. They were aiming for the wrong condition. Could make some really cruel word play using the PROST, but the Moderators would muzzle me once again. I'm really not laughing, illness isn't a joke, but this is really a silly mistake.

  • Comment number 55.

    #52 RobinJD

    "like all of your party"

    I find these kinds of comments quite amazing. If you stereotyped members of an ethnic group like this, you would be a racist. Those of you who are extreme party loyalists should reflect that there are people in the "other" party, who hold views that are virtually identical to your own.

    As someone who supports neither Tory or New Labour, I can't see much difference between them.

  • Comment number 56.

    re: 55

    The difference is, regardless of your views, that one is getting stronger by the day and the other is crumbling into oblivion due to a never-ending series of blunders and mistakes entirely of their own making.

  • Comment number 57.

    #56 power_to_the_ppl

    But this is simply a cyclical pattern which affects any party that has been in power too long. It happened to Major's Tories, and will happen to future Government's as well.

  • Comment number 58.

    45. grandantidote

    See youre in your element this afternoon.

    Ok so how many Labour MPs will it take to change a light bulb in 2011

    Both of them

  • Comment number 59.

    45. grandantidote

    A lobbyist on his way home from working in Parliament came to a stop in traffic and thought to himself, "Wow, this traffic jam seems worse than usual."

    Then he noticed a police officer walking between the lines of stopped cars so he rolled down his window and asked, "Officer, what's the holdup?"

    The officer replied, "The Prime Minister is depressed, so he stopped his motorcade and is threatening to douse himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. He says no one believes his stories about why he bottled out of the election, or that he was planning his inheritance tax cut all along. So we're taking up a collection for him."

    The lobbyist asked, "How much have you got so far?"

    The officer replied, "About forty gallons, but a lot of people are still siphoning."

  • Comment number 60.

    Robinjd@42 "When did NewLabour allow Railtrack to go bust?"

    Robinjd@52 "My issue is, like all of your party, grandantidote, you fail to answer for your own track record. "

    It was Railtracks broken track record that led them to go bust.

    Excellent decision to change it into a not for profit company. Instead of subsidising shareholders with subsidies. You seem quite upset about this decision. A former shareholder?

  • Comment number 61.

    re: 57

    I agree completely. I just happen to think this shower are the worst yet.

  • Comment number 62.

    re: 59


  • Comment number 63.

    #58 and 59


  • Comment number 64.

    re: 60

    And that excuses Labour from everything else listed on post 42? Accept it, they're completely worthless and they've ruined this country. You can't blame the previous government if you've been in power for 11 years!

  • Comment number 65.

    48 Power to the ppl I was delighted that you called me bonkers thats a first in my life, I thought that I was missing out on something I must have really got to you to get BONKERS and "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU and WIBBLE WOBBLE JELLY ON A PLATE within a couple of posts, I did warn you about the blood pressure and paranioa
    I were you I would take a long rest .

  • Comment number 66.

    #55 oldnat

    Like you, I find these exchanges amazing. I don't know why those concerned don't simply cut and paste their list of accusations/ defences/counter accusations/insults etc and post them irrespective of the topic.

    Or maybe they do ?

    #48 (power_to_the_ppl) reckons everybody on here is paranoid or bonkers which I take to be a proxy for politically committed to Labour or Conservative - no matter what.

    To such diehards, any dissenting view is taken as evidence that the contributor is a Labour stooge or a undercover Tory.

    I would respectfully suggest that the reality might be a wee bit different. Many people are not only not committed to any political party but take the view that it is necessary for healthy democracy that no one party should be in power for too long.

    Fortunately that need for change
    of the party in power every so often is helped along by the fact that every party in power eventually acts in such a way as to lose popularity. This usually happens due to a combination of factors - eg the pendulum swinging too far in the direction of some of that party's political dogmas or it's failings in office catching up with it over time (despite it's successes in other areas) or through hubris as a result of being in power too long.

    When that happens, absent any big event, the game is up. This is more because of the fact that many people are against the government of the day than it is because they are for the opposition.

    That is why - to the evident disbelief of eg grandantidote - that currently there are some Government critics who are in the 'I am not Tory' category. Just as there were many critics of the last Tory government who could say 'I am not Labour' In fact, many of these critics are the same people.

    I know, I know - I'm wasting my time.

  • Comment number 67.

    I was expecting today's blog to be dull at first but it's been great fun today and now I'm all politicked out. I think your suggestion of a lie down grandantidote is the only sensible thing you've ever said. *Yawn* I think I'll go for a nap.

  • Comment number 68.

    52 robin jd I understood there was a free vote on the Iraq war I am not sure but I think the tories were more in favour than labour MPs.

  • Comment number 69.

    To my surprise, I found you a refreshing change on this morning's Today prog. I certainly prefer to hear you without having to look at your very silly spectacles. I realise they are a very contrived 'brand' to mark you out in the showbiz of political reporting, but stop being a sad attention seeker and get a grown up pair.

  • Comment number 70.

    I wonder if we could have confirmation of the rumours circulating that our wonderful war leader did not allow a rescue operation by the SAS to go ahead in respect of the five hostages in Iraq.

    It will not be a question of we do not remark on the operations of Special Forces because surely it would not breach NATIONAL SECURITY if we were told the truth. The operation did not take place! But was it planned but not enacted.

    I personally despair of Gordon Brown. What is the point of him continuing as our Prime Minister. How can he say anything about any regime when I personally believe that he took over as a result of a coup and he has not come to the electorate. He lacks any legitimacy. This is not good enough!

    He paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and I regard him as just as much a war criminal as any other tyrant.

    No doubt this will be moderated out but we seriously must stop thinking of the SAS as special. A recent trial held in camera should be reported on. It is unacceptable for this so one sided reporting of our military to go ahead, what is the government afraid of, who runs this country, the government or the military.

  • Comment number 71.

    64 power_to......

    Not here to answer for labour. Just making the point that railtrack deserved to go under. Why was the rail network a monopoly, which cannot possibly run safely at a profit. privatised? How did they make profits? It sounded to me like it was to save money by cutting corners while keeping it at arms length from the government.

    Now we have Network Rail a not for profit company. Who can run proper metal trains carrying the travelling public. not just a gravy train for shareholders.

  • Comment number 72.

    I have never felt so sad about the future for the people who inhabit these islands. The future does not look good so who would think that what these countries need is a Campaign for Freedom. The restoration of some freedoms we have lost and to give us freedoms which we have never had.

    The monarchy is an anachronism and when the Queen eventually passes away then we must have a Republic. we can continue with the royalty for ceremonial purposes but we must have an elected President. We are nothing but a banana republic as it stands and there must be change.

    Ooops have I suggested some sort of treason? If so then take me to the Tower.

  • Comment number 73.

    68. grandantidote

    To be fair all MPs were misled by government on the real threat from Iraq

    You will recall the Dossier

    Ironically titled:

    Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation

  • Comment number 74.

    I thought I would let everybody know that on the 23rd June the PMs wonderful email the PM was 'temporarily suspended' for maintenance work. It is still not back up. It is not the email service that needs maintenance it is our war leader Brown.

    You seriously could not make it up. Contact the PM with your opinions. As sson as we do down goes the site. He really ought to read your site Nick, he may learn the truth because as we all know 'The Truth is out here'

  • Comment number 75.

    74. T A Griffin (TAG)

    Tis nothing, last week I tried to log onto a governement web site that actually closed at 5.00 pm

  • Comment number 76.

    45. grandantidote

    A young, ruthless executive died and went to hell. When he got there, he saw one sign that said Conservative Hell, and another that said Nu Labour Hell.

    In front of the Nu Labour Hell was an incredibly long line, while there was no-one in front of the Conservative Hell.

    So the executive asked the guard, "What do they do to you in Nu Labour Hell?"
    "They boil you in oil, whip you, and then put you on the rack," the guard replied.
    "And what do they do to you in Conservative Hell?" "The same exact thing," the guard answered.

    "Then why is everybody in line for Nu Labour Hell?"

    "Because in Nu Labour Hell, they're always out of oil, whips, and racks!"

  • Comment number 77.

    72 TA Griffin (Tag)

    I am not commenting on any of your points concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because in the past it was established that I support them and the armed forces, whilst sharing yoru despair about Gordon Brown being an unelected prime minister. I don't however even begin to compare him with Mugabe, and believe he is more unwise than evil. But them I must admit, I have always believed that silliness can be even more dangerous than wickedness. I pray I am wrong. What I do not agree with is your idea of abolishing the monarchy and installing a president. So you don't believe in the divine rights of kings, the hierarchy whereby monarch is head of the country and church. Fair enough, but think of the presidents of other countries, a pretty ghastly lot. Could we do any better? I think of the establishment, the high court judges, the politicians. Banana republic sounds almost reasonable to the alternative of being lead by any of these clowns.

  • Comment number 78.

    re: 73

    Concealment, deception and intimidation are Labour's Holy Trinity. Oh yeah and let's squeeze a fourth one in there too, allegedly *mmf* offering bribes, peerages etc in exchange for votes. I'm looking at you Vaz and DUP.

    Get junk mail every day? Don't chuck it in the bin, forward it to 10 Downing St. Imagine the hilarity that would ensue if everyone in the country did that. :D

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 Phoenixarisen

    Is there anyone that you don't dislike?

    "think of the presidents of other countries, a pretty ghastly lot"

    That's pretty well every other country in the world.

  • Comment number 80.

    re: 77

    I think 'unwise' is a little too lenient. In order to wreak havoc like Broon has done you either have to be criminally insane or staggeringly inept or both. Or susceptible to hypnotism. And it doesn't help if you populate your cabinet with cabbage-headed buffoons. I think the real controlling force behind the government are the two alien caterpillars that live above Alistair Darling's eyes and exert untold hypnotic power over the PM's pickled brain. Beware everyone... they grow larger and more vicious with every drop of oil they guzzle down!

  • Comment number 81.

    "lucky I'm not giving up the day job" : too rght. Today's for journeymen (colourfulness an advantage). Insightful 'users' of the language are thin on the ground. Hurry back.

  • Comment number 82.

    #77. Exactly what part of our occupation of Iraq do you actually agree with.

    What I ask anybody to do is to consider the German victory over France in WWII. France was occupied, did we support the resistance, yes. Were we right, of course, but in actual fact we were wrong. The legal government of France surrendered and accepted defeat. De Gaul was actually tried in his absence and found guilty of treason.

    Iraq was defeated by a superior military force, does that mean they should just accept defeat, no. The people must resist.

    We are a force of occupation and all we want is access to the oil. Go back to Churchill and our earlier occupation of Iraq in the twenties/thirties.

    We are nothing but a bunch of mercenaries. Look at the privaye contractors operating outside of military law, laws which it has been proven we have broken.

    This is what is so sad, we have lost all moral authority, we are the aggressors and we will pay for our misdemeanors.

  • Comment number 83.

    79 oldnat

    That's right. I don't discriminate - don't like any of them!

    80 power_to_the_ppl

    You are spot on, I thought Darling wasn't just a pretty face.

  • Comment number 84.

    #83 Phoenixarisen

    I take it then that you also dislike Lizzie and her dreadful family.

  • Comment number 85.

    Re #70 T A Griffin (TAG)
    "I personally despair of Gordon Brown .... He lacks any legitimacy. This is not good enough!"

    So do I, but I despair even more of the electorate's putting up with our arcane quasi-democratic system of putting such idiots into power. Collectively, we have the memory retention of mayflies.

    Brown has no democratic legitimacy, but neither have many previous PMs of all parties. Douglas-Home was the last in 1963. But so what? We only get to choose the individual MPs and have only had party allegiance shown on the ballot papers in the last few decades. The party with a majority of MPs gets to choose the PM. Labour won the last election with the support of 35% of the votes and less than 25% of the electorate, yet our system gives them 100% of the power.

    That much is common knowledge, but I wonder how many know that no political party has had a majority of the votes since the Tories in 1931, and surprisingly they kept the Labour ex-leader, MacDonald, as figurehead with his 13 National Labour MPs who between them got 1.5% of the vote. The last time a political party had a majority of the votes (50.3%) and formed a government was in the general election of 1900 won by the Tories. Even that wasn't democratic of course as no women could vote and not even all men over 21.

    Of course all governments since WW2 say the system makes for "strong" government, but to paraphrase Ms Rice-Davies: Well, they would, wouldn't they? Personally, I don't want strong government but good, honest and accountable government. After three doses of New Labour, I don't think I'm alone, but four doses of the Tories between '79 and '97 ended much the same way.

    Next time, the electorate will probably have a significant plurality for the Tories and so the political game of winner-takes-all between the two biggest parties will continue until the Tories run out of steam, have too many MPs caught in the wrong beds, and give the next reincarnation of SuperNew Labour Buggins' turn.

    There is just a remote possibility that Labour are so damaged that they will be finished as a major party and the LibDems with their belief in democracy will get the Buggins' turn when the next Tory government eventually replay the later Major years. Unfortunately, in the meantime the Scots and likely the Welsh will jump ship and break the union, leaving England alone in the EU with a parliamentary system Cromwell would have been at home in.

    If the electorate would think about system for once instead of the red-top headlines, they would vote for democracy and possibly take a democratic federal UK into another 300 years of union. I'm not hopeful that they will.

    PS: If anyone recalls the date or the name of the act that allowed parties on ballot paper, please post it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Oh dear ! I signed up to this blog a few months back to read political comments on a range of topics. Sad that it turns out to be full of people who dont have political views, they just suffer from a range of prejudices disguised as views. Seems like I need to rethink the whole business of posting comments.

  • Comment number 87.

    Re #80 power_to_the_ppl

    Yes, but how did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?

  • Comment number 88.

    82 Tag

    I'm not a professional military man, so will probably sound naive. I seem to recall that a dictator, Sadam, was terrorising the citizens of Iraq who were not of the same sect as he was. The Kurds, in particular were cruelly slaughtered, gassed and subjected to absolute misery. Countries, including Kuwait and Israel were attacked by Sadam's rockets in the war of the 1990s, and the situation was very volatile. Many Iraqis are pleased our forces are there, whilst others who supported Sadam are not. A lot of Iraqis have sought sanctuary in the UK, so we can't be all bad.
    Now is not the twenties nor the thirties, but mercenaries exist on all sides. Like jackals smelling blood, war brings out the human opportunists, but I emphasise this is not restricted to any one side, or any one nation.

  • Comment number 89.

    May be mice for you and audience that N. Robinson appears on Today.

    But I thought you were a political commentator, Nick.

    You aren't the story.

    Did you really think that nothing in the political sphere was more worthy of a blog than the fact you got up early and made a gaffe?

    Possibly one of the politicians dragged onto to (or rushing to get onto) Today will make a gaffe, which you will then include in a blog.

    Maybe you'll be a bit more sympathetic. And that's the problem...

    If the politicos (or journalists) can't function early - they simply shouldn't bother to get up! Plenty of people have to be in "work mode" at 0500. Their customers din't give a damn if they are in the mood/with it or not!

  • Comment number 90.

    U11714077 wrrote:

    "Pathetic but illuminating",

    Bulbs do, tho', don't they, like, illuminate.

    In rresponse to the debate on light burbs changing tactics, whereby the divergent, but Brownian (motion) solutions of the first rpoblem, with regards to the letter "r, diverted once again and wnet towards a more political courrse towarrds the second.


  • Comment number 91.

    re: 87

    Aren't you a grump! Where's your sense of humour? You ought to relax, politics doesn't have to be Gordon Brown style you know, getting bogged down in all that detail...

  • Comment number 92.

    #88 Phoenixarisen

    War is a political, not just a military process. Let's not revisit all the Iraq war origins argument, but if we were going to invade every country with a bad leader who encouraged terrorism, we'd have invaded Reagan's America.

  • Comment number 93.

    re: 90

    That makes about as much sense as anything Brown comes out with at PMQs. Maybe a bit more actually.

  • Comment number 94.

    Re #91 power_to_the_ppl

    I don't quite follow you. My #87 was intended as a lighthearted dig at your #80 which struck me as a pure catalogue of woe without any ideas on how to ameliorate it.

    Yes, a lot of us feel like that about this government and many of its predecessors, but having had a moan I usually try to make a positive contribution to the debate.

  • Comment number 95.


    "That makes about as much sense as anything Brown comes out with at PMQs. Maybe a bit more actually."

    It's not supposed to make sense, remember politics is like quantum theory, it defies logic, untill you study it upside down, with one leg up in the air. Anyway, I thought the rule was "comments" only aimed at the blogger, aka, Nick? So, power_to_the_ppl, person, are we now having a blogging comment "conversation" or what?

    Lets at least declare the letter "r" is now (sort of) famous. It just got in the way.


  • Comment number 96.

    #92 oldnat

    Reagan was awful in many. many ways, but there was a childishly idealistic streak about him that I always found rather endearing.

    You know that he had a dream, that the cold war could have ended simply by flying Brezhnev over some American suburbs, and together, they would knock on a random door, and talk to a normal American family about their life? The idea was that when Brezhnev realised how happy and content the family was under capitalism, he would embrace American economics and values, and that would bring the entire conflict to an end.

  • Comment number 97.

    regan ended the cold war because his military expenditure bankrupted the Soviets who just couldnt keep up.

    For all his other faults, he should be remembered for ending the cold war peacefully.

  • Comment number 98.


    You are of course absolutely correct in your analysis. However, for as long as we have a world with countries and borders then I think you will agree that regime change is illegal. So is a war of aggression.

    Iraq was not a threat to us, what I would say is that the problem was that the west was made to look impotent. Fance and Germany had substantial investment in Iraq, look at oil for food programme and wonder if there was any corruption.

    We now know that Bush offered Blair a get out which he declined, for what reqason we do not know or understand. Surely he would have spoken to Brown or did Brown do one of his now famous Pimpernel acts, they seek him here they seek him there but that elusive Brown could not not be found. That is one of the major issues that I have with him, I personally think that Brown is well, gutless.

    Our soldiers have been let down, not only by the politicians but also by their senior officers who seriously should have refused orders. The soldiers signed up to fight for their Queen and Country, not on behalf of a disastrous American foreign policy.

    There must be an inquiry immediately. The inquiry into Bloody Sunday has still not reported but that should not be allowed to be used as an excuse for not holding an inquiry into the disaster in Iraq. I think you will find that this government has even had to change Military Law so that soldiers can no longer refuse to accept oders from officers of a different country to our own, I may be wrong but I don't think that I am.

  • Comment number 99.

    TAG, you're probably wrong, they've always been able to take orders from officers above them in the chain of command, be they UK service personel or foreign. Unless you think NATO is only populated by British types.

    Anyone see that women arrested under the Terrorism act for having the nerve to bring her disabled child back into the country? And yes I know they thought it was for child trafficking (which I think should be applauded - at least they're semi-awake) but why use the terrorism act?

  • Comment number 100.

    re: 94

    Apologies Brownedov, I thought you were moaning at me.

    re: 95

    I was under the impression that 'conversations' on here are perfectly acceptable, as long as its loosely related to the topic.


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