Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Jack the Lad and Another Case of Mistaken Identity

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Jack the Lad and Another Case of Mistaken Identity

Article excerpt

* Perhaps greybeard Jack "The Lad" Straw should invest in a new pair of spectacles after the minister who once failed to recognise Robert Mugabe missed another international figure. Invited to Wembley to see England play the round ball game, your humble columnist watched The Lad happily take his seat for lunch in the VIP restaurant until an FA blazer announced the day's special guest. The startled expression on The Lad's face said it all when the tanned chap sitting opposite stood up to acknowledge the applause gracefully, for it was Jose Manuel Barroso, o presidente of the European Commission. My advice to The Lad is: "Next time don't run round the table as fast as Shaun Wright-Phillips, because it gives the game away."

* Ming the Mercifully Put Out of His Misery's self-immolation denies us a Liberal Democrat offensive to rival Gladstone's Midlothian campaign. Summoning the party spinner Mark Webster to a counsel of despair, Ming issued battle orders. "I want," declared the now ex-leader, "more op-ed pieces in the Guardian." To think impertinent Lib Dem MPs dared question Ming's stomach for the fight.

* Daytime TV hosts could make a few bob on the side. Tory panjandrums have decreed frontbenchers should learn to walk and talk from memory like Citizen Dave. A bigwig lets slip the intention is to stage a Cameroonian lectern-less conference in Brum next October. Pity the tutor who must coach flustered Theresa Villiers (below), a shadow cabinet lady who sounds marginally less fluent in English than Senhor Barroso, who at least has the excuse of being Portuguese. …

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