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Monday, 13 April 2009

Damian McBride’s Email

The newspapers this morning are dominated by stories about the leaking of Damian McBride’s email about the plan to smear leading Tory politicians. It is difficult to believe that the newspapers would have run with the stories that appeared on the proposed Red Rag website. I cannot imagine any newspaper editor publishing stories about how David Cameron once had a sexually transmitted disease or that George Osborne once had a relationship with a prostitute, Natalie Rowe. These stories are not relevant to the ability of Cameron or Osborne to reach high office. The really interesting question is why the stories about the corrupt and unethical behaviour of our leading politicians do not reach the mass media.

A few years ago a senior Labour cabinet minister was accused by a junior civil servant of sexual harassment. It was not the first time that this minister was accused of this offence. However, the woman concerned accepted the promotion she was offered and the minister was allowed to keep his job. The Conservative Party of course found out about this story but did not leak it to the press. This might seem quite surprising as a cabinet minister using his position of power to sexually harass a young woman is despicable and is a good enough reason to bring the man down.

The reason for this is that both of our two main political parties have a long list of illegal and immoral activities committed by their rivals. If for example, the Tories used this story about this minister, Labour would have leaked the story about the sexual behaviour of William Hague. This is even worse than the story about the sexual harassment of a clerical worker.

More importantly, the two main parties keep out of the press stories concerning political corruption. In this way they can appear on television and argue that we have the cleanest political system in the world. In fact, we have one of the most corrupt democracies in existence. One of the problems is that with our first past the post system is that it allows us to be ruled as a two-party state. Labour and Conservative leaders are willing to join in this conspiracy of corruption in order to maintain the status quo.

The Labour minister involved in the sexual harassment case was eventually dismissed by Blair for incompetence. Yet, every time there is talk of a leadership challenge he appears on television suggesting he might be a good future leader. I am not sure he will get the woman’s vote if his secret was revealed.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Montego Bay

The Beach House was originally part of an estate belonging to Lord Lyle, and is situated about four miles west of Montego Bay in the village of Reading.

The main house and pool were built in the 1950s at a time when Jamaica became popular as a tourist destination. A generation of writers, artists and Hollywood celebrities such as Ian Fleming, Noel Coward and Errol Flynn made Jamaica's north coast their home.

The villa has many attractive period features - an intriguing mix of Jamaican colonial style and Miami art deco - which the present owners have sought to preserve.

Although the interior is spacious and elegant, the Beach House was - because of its unique location - designed for outside living. The north-facing patio commands uninterrupted views of the sea to the west, and Bogue lagoon (a protected marine park) and Montego Bay to the east.

The 150ft sea frontage includes a small sand beach and a jetty. One of its most extravagant features is the 51ft swimming pool - one of the largest private pools on the island.

The house has two large double bedrooms, both with cavernous walk-in cedar wardrobes and en-suite shower and bathroom facilities. Both rooms have king size, four poster beds and air conditioning.
The upstairs bedroom is approached by a covered exterior staircase, so can operate independently of the rooms downstairs.

It has a large, curved balcony overlooking the sea facing Montego Bay Freeport, where you can see the cruise liners docking in the distance. It also has a small kitchen area with a fridge and facilities for making light refreshments.

Downstairs, the bedroom opens via elegant French windows onto the front room, an exceptionally large area with sofas, TV, DVD and iPod compatible stereo, plus a bar and refreshment area. This room, which has a spectacular 18ft curved bay window facing the lagoon, leads out onto the patio.

Immediately adjacent to the house is a single storey apartment block with one section comprising two en-suite bedrooms (both with air conditioning), sitting room and kitchen area with fridge.

Next door is a fully-fitted kitchen and large dining room, which overlooks the pool.

All the bedrooms at the Beach House have iPod docking stations, and the villa has wi-fi internet connectivity, so you can - if you wish - keep in touch with family and colleagues back home while you enjoy a cool Red Stripe under the shade of the almond tree.

If you like outdoor living, you will find plenty to occupy you at the Beach House. We enjoy a delightful micro-climate in our part of Montego Bay. In the mornings, the sea is invariably flat calm - like a lake - because of the breeze coming down from the mountains behind us.

The water has a magical quality and it's an ideal time to go snorkelling, swimming or taking some exercise in the pedal boat or sea kyaks. Around 10 am, the wind changes and the sea breeze picks up.

The sea rarely gets too choppy whatever the time of day because we are protected by Reading reef, a mile-long coral barrier that curves across the bay. The lagoon is also home to many sea birds such as pelicans, herons and sandpipers and is an important habitat for maintining fish stocks.

Although temperatures will typically rise to 28 - 30C, you’ll never feel uncomfortable because of the breeze. In fact, whatever time of day, you’ll never need to wear more than a T shirt and shorts.

In the evening, after sunset, the breeze drops and you can watch the lights from Montego Bay town shimmering on the water of Bogue lagoon. It's a great time to observe the many fishes that inhabit the lagoon using our floating lights - or just kick back and relax.


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    Thursday, 9 April 2009

    Mandy Rice-Davies

    Mandy Rice-Davies, one of the key figures in the Profumo Scandal, has sent me this statement that she wishes to be published on this blog:

    Regina v Ward was undoubtedly one of the most vindictively rigged trials of the 20th Century. The Macmillan government, plagued throughout their office by spy cases, were eager to shift the security aspects of the Profumo business out of the spotlight. Aristocratic by nature and clinging to the old values of a swiftly vanishing past, they cast about for lessor, more expendable mortals on who to pin the blame.

    The establishment aimed their arrows at Stephen Ward and a couple of teenage girls who were doing nothing more than chasing a good time. The police with Machiavellian cunning threw in a couple of known prostitutes to muddy the waters.

    Three days after Profumo confessed and resigned, Stephen Ward was arrested and a case that barely had legs to stand on was dragged kicking and screaming into court.

    Ward may have been a man with lax moral standards and uncertain principles, but other than a few muddled insinuations from the priggish prosecution no evidence was produced to show that Stephen Ward was a pimp. There is no doubt that had Ward not committed suicide, the case would have been dismissed on appeal.

    In regard to myself, the worst I could be accused of is bad judgment and a healthy libido. I was only eighteen years old when the storm broke and after getting on with the rest of my life 1963 still casts a shadow. However a scandal is a scandal whatever the outcome and there will always be those who for personal gain or simple spite will try to distort the truth.