Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Destroyed with courtesy

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 19, 2009

    John Rentoul has a wonderful habit of curteously destroying an argument. His latest post is a typical example, exposing poor Adam LeBor's piece in The Times for the Henry Porterism (to use John's phrase) it is:

    birthplace of political liberties, the home of the Magna Carta, is now
    one of the most intrusive democracies in the world. Labour governments
    have introduced surveillance and monitoring systems of which the
    communists could only dream.

    Give over. The feebleness of the analysis is exposed by this classic conspiracist formulation: LeBor says that Labour ministers

    never say openly ... “We intend to privatise formerly public spaces and
    hand over state functions of public order to armies of unaccountable
    security guards.” Instead, changes are introduced stealthily, rarely
    debated by Parliament and are nodded through with the acquiescence of
    the Opposition, in the name of that useful catch-all “security”.
    Whether by design or not, that seems to me to be happening.

  • City pay is on the up

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 19, 2009

    This just doesn’t add up. City pay has risen six per cent in a month, according to a survey by recruitment firm Morgan McKinley, and the average City salary was £53,223 (excluding bonuses). The report monitors the job situation in the City and beyond for July, compared to June and last year.


    The important line:

    The average City salary was £53,223, registering a 6% increase on June 09 but a 1% decrease versus a year ago (July 08)

  • Thieving from Tesco

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 18, 2009

    A Tesco ATM has been handing out double the amount of cash asked for. And there have, it seems, been long queues to take advantage. The reports have been all very jolly, and Tesco says that:

    'We will not be trying to recover the money.'

    Why not? Other than the first few people, who clearly had no idea what was about to happen, every other person in that queue was guilty of theft, pure and simple.

  • New parents: take note

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 18, 2009

    Without wanting to sound like too much like a PR plug: Want to look cool this summer? Then get yourself a baby and accessorise with a super nifty baby stroller.

    The Taga – a pushchair and bicycle in one - has recently arrived in the UK, courtesy of Israeli inventor Hagai Barak, and is already a firm celebrity favourite. Geri Halliwell is among its devotees.

    Launched in April, the Taga, which looks a bit like a Rickshaw, has already picked up three design awards and is generating more attention than the yummy mummies themselves. Its website describes it as “a multifunctional urban vehicle, uniquely designed to suit the needs of today's parents and children”. Ah of course, Sunday’s dash down Oxford Street via Selfridges was at the request of the 18 month-old, not their mother. But anyway, it does look cool and converts from bike to buggy quicker than you can say “Bugaboo”.


  • The good, the bad and the utterly ridiculous

    Danny Caro
    Aug 18, 2009

    The last few days have featured some dramatic events on the field of play.

    The good - the new 100 metres record by Jamaican wizard Usain Bolt was out of this world. The scary thing is that he never appears to be going flat out. I think it’s just a matter of time until he betters his 9.58.

    The bad - Dean Richards and Tom ‘the winker’ Williams should hang their heads in shame. Rugby is meant to be the gentleman’s game. Theirs was the act of a coward. I’ve heard of clutching at straws but their desperate actions was the lowest of the low.

  • Gone Gaga

    Jessica Elgot
    Aug 18, 2009

    Lady Gaga has never been attention-shy. But it takes a brave lady to wear a necklace which looks like it's made of bullets through security at Ben Gurion airport.

    Most of us wouldn't pick an Israeli ariport as the ideal venue to draw attention to ourselves, but Gaga, who recently posed for a magazine shoot wearing nothing but sticking plasters, marched through passport control in a spiked hat and boots, teamed with a black leather biker jacket.

    Never mind the bullets being inappropriate, how on earth did she get through the metal detector?

  • They don't like it

    Jenni Frazer
    Aug 18, 2009

    An extraordinary amount of vitriol has been directed at me after I recently suggested in the paper that rabbis should stay out of politics. Most of the attacks have been from supporters of the rabbi at Bevis Marks, against whom I have nothing whatsoever, though judging by the vehemence of the language, you might believe the contrary.
    However, the central point remains. Rabbis and politics are a lethal mix, as, for that matter, is the involvement of any person of the cloth with the political world. Just look at the flak directed at the Archbishop of Canterbury every time he ventures a political opinion. Our own chief rabbi's almost monk-like discretion in this regard now seems almost saintly.
    I did not, nor do I currently suggest, that rabbis should not hold political opinions. The very reverse. What I object to is them dealing out such political opinions to the congregation, as though their affiliation to party allegiances had a sacred hechsher. I am more than capable of making up my mind about where I stand on Israel, for example, without being hectored one way or the other from the pulpit.
    And given the rancour directed against me this week, probably the same applies to many overheated members of the congregation. Well, that's me told.

  • Grow up

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 14, 2009

    I was going to post again on the bizarre silly season story of the moment, the notion that Dan Hannan is somehow a traitor, either to his country (the Labour line) or his party (the Conservative line - which has some more merit to it, given their panic over the idea that they are anti-NHS; I wish they were).