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Tuesday 13th January 2015
Red princes, Ukippers, and some bloke called Boris. Whatever result the electorate hurls at Westminster in May, one thing's for sure: we're likely to see a whole new set of faces on the green benches. So who are the major runners and riders? Dot's pin-sharp colleagues over on Dods Monitoring have combed the list of prospective parliamentary candidates and come up with a few ones to watch.
Boris Johnson (Conservative): With odds of 1/50 in his favour, the Monitoring team reckon the tousle-haired London mayor is pretty much a shoo-in as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. He won't be harmed by outgoing Tory incumbent John Randall’s thumping 11,126 majority, either. And the one-time Spectator editor certainly has form when it comes to annihilating his opponents.
Will Straw (Labour): The Tories have already had quite a bit of fun with the idea of 2015 giving us a bunch of 'Red Princes', parachuted onto the Labour benches courtesy of some family connections. Will Straw, son of erstwhile foreign secretary Jack, launched the Left Foot Forward Blog in 2009, reportedly saying* he wanted to do a "less side-splittingly hilarious" version of Dot Commons.
*in a dream.
Julian Knight (Conservative): The Independent on Sunday's money and property editor is taking on Lib Dem assistant whip Lorely Burt, who's fighting to defend a razor-thin 175-vote majority. Dot is so certain that owning the Twitter handle @ukmoneyguru will work in his favour that she's put a £10,000 bet on him becoming Chancellor within the year. You're welcome.
Stephen Kinnock (Labour): Stephen, who's been selected to defend the 11,039 majority in Aberavon vacated by Hywel Francis, is not only the son of former Labour leader Neil. He's also married to Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who made headlines for her selfie with David Cameron and Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. He may be advised to take her advice on photo ops over his father's, mind.
Patrick O'Flynn (Ukip): The former political editor of the Daily Express has been a regular feature on the airwaves since becoming Ukip's economics spokesperson, and the Monitoring team puts his odds of winning in Cambridge at 50/1. But what Express readers will really want to know is whether his election might cause house prices to SOAR or simply PLUNGE the UK into a FIVE MONTH ARCTIC FREEZE?
For the best of the rest, get yourself a Class of 2015 PDF after the jump.
Monday 12th January 2015
In what is surely parliamentary first, a nine-year-old boy has just appeared before MPs, dressed in a Cub Scout uniform, to slam a major infrastructure project.
It's worth pointing out that this was no ordinary child wandering onto the Committee corridor to have a pop at rail plans, but rather Alex, the son of Stop HS2 campaign supremo Joe Rukin.
Alex, flanked by his father, told the HS2 hybrid bill committee that he'd been less than impressed with HS2 Ltd's response to a petition he'd signed attacking the Government's plans for a new high speed railway.
"Because the HS2 people are really, really bad at maths and make things up that aren't true I am worried that HS2 will cost more than they say," he told MPs.
His Dad was on hand to clarify/prompt the lad: "It's fair to say that he'd been less than impressed with the standard of work from HS2 Ltd. But since receiving the response to his petition, that opinion has worsened."
In case we were in any doubt about Alex's credentials, MPs heard a fact sure to shame the many hapless arts graduates tuned in: "I got 93% in my maths test, was top of the class in three-quarters of my class in the year above."
Dad chipped in to say that the Government had set an overall funding envelope of £21.4bn for HS2 in 2011 prices, including £14.4bn of contingency funding. Which is the sort of stuff Dot has tried and failed to interest her own younger brother in for years.
Dad: "Now if the official cost of phase one, without contingency, is £15.7bn, Alex, what is £21.4bn minus £14.4bn?"
Dad: "Okay. So that's not £15.7bn?"
Dad: "Okay so just to recap, in response to a nine-year-old who said that HS2 Ltd weren't good at maths, HS2 Ltd have sent him costs back which are £8.7bn out."
Alex's verdict? "That they really, really need my help at maths."
He later told the Committee, rather harshly, that he didn't think the HS2 lot "were very good at maths... [or] good at anything".
We're just waiting for HS2 to hit back with a robust "My dad's bigger than your dad".
Monday 12th January 2015
It’s worth noting, then, that the Mayor gave up the luxurious environs of Chez Johnson on Friday to spend a night on the streets alongside Independent owner Evgeny Lebedev as part of the Homeless Veterans campaign.
Indeed, Boris’s address for the night was not so far from that tent city inhabited by Occupy “crusties” in 2011.
Rumours that Ed Miliband gave the Mayor a few coins for a cup of tea are yet to be confirmed.
Tuesday 6th January 2015
Visitors to Ukip’s website this morning could be forgiven for thinking there had been a rather drastic shift in design.
Gone is The People’s Army, led by General Nigel, to be replaced by this:
Could it be sabotage by Brussels bureaucrats, the outcome of a sneaked-through directive? Is it some unforeseen consequence of Nigel Farage’s Dry January, the power sapping from Ukip’s veins like a shorn Samson? Is it the launch of the long-promised radical new manifesto (‘we’ll buy your house’ could be an interesting dividing line with other parties, all the same. Some might say the Telegraph subscription and walk-in showers would even help them shore up their support)?
Probably not; Guido says it is a technical fault.
Monday 5th January 2015
Has Ed Balls just dealt a mortal blow to Russell Brand's hopes for global revolution?
The comedian-turned-campaigner, who recently blasted Ukip's Nigel Farage as a "pound shop Enoch Powell", trained his sights on the Shadow Chancellor during Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz of the Year over the weekend.
"I think it's gonna be a tough time for Ed Balls," Brand said of his revolution, before launching what can only properly be called a Foul-Mouthed Tirade. "I shook his hand once. All clicky wristed, he was a snidey c***."
But the Shadow Chancellor was pressed on the claim by the BBC's intrepid Emily Maitlis this afternoon.
"I wasn't quite sure what it meant to be honest, Emily," he admitted. "I'm not quite sure what clicky-wristed means. I don't know whether that's supposed to be offensive or funny or whatever.
He went on: "I think probably Jo Brand is a rather better political commentator. I suppose you could call him a pound shop Ben Elton. But it doesn't mean he's not sometimes funny."
Over to you, Russell...