Friday, 22 May 2009

I'll speak up for Martin

IT looks like Mr Speaker is on his way out the door. After loads of criticism and personal attacks, he finally announced he’s quitting on June 21—the first speaker to be forced out of his post in 300 years! All of this stems from the on-going witch-hunt over MPs’ expenses. Although there’s a lot to be said in defence of MPs, it’s pointless, because you wouldn’t believe me. But the thing is, MPs have got fed up with the whole thing and were looking for someone to blame. Speaker Michael Martin is that fall guy. It all came to a head last Monday. A bunch of MPs had a go at Mr Martin in a series of rather personal attacks. They accused him of causing a lot of the problems facing Parliament. The Speaker weathered the storm. But 24 hours later he came back and in one of Parliament’s shortest ever statements said he was throwing in the towel. The whole spectacle made me cringe with embarrassment. Normally, the Commons is polite, but there was not much courtesy to Speaker Martin. Who’s going to be the next Speaker? My favourites are Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith and Tory John Bercow. But it’s an open field, like the Grand National, you’d be mad to bet all your cash on a “dead cert.” Still, it’s a sad day when a Speaker is treated like this. Michael Martin was alright and didn’t deserve the humiliation. If this is how we’re all going to behave in Parliament, we may as well replace normal debate with a set of stocks and throw rotten fruit at each other. And then elections could be decided with a mud wrestling contest. It wouldn’t be any messier than what’s just happened in the House.
Burma thugs are insein!
THERE was more bad news for the poor people of Burma this week when the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was locked up in prison and put on trial. For the last 45 years the country has been ruled by a bunch of military thugs who shoot protesters, starve the nation and try to wipe out ethnic minorities. Anyone who has seen the latest Rambo movie, which is about Burma, knows how bad things are. Suu Kyi has spent the last 20 years trying to get freedom and human rights for the Burmese people—you know, the little things like having enough food to feed your family, being able to criticise the government without being shot or read a foreign newspaper without being thrown in jail. She won a democratic election in 1990 but the dictatorship just ignored the result and put her under house arrest. She’s been there pretty much ever since with the regime’s guards all around her. But last week an American man managed to break in and pay her a visit. Anyone can see that’s not her fault but the lunatics who rule the country have used it as an excuse to carry on giving her a hard time. They’re now keeping her in Insein prison—a place that makes Guantanamo bay look like a holiday camp. It’s important that the world gets right behind Suu Kyi. She’s a great lady who just cares about her people. If the dictatorship get their way, things over in Burma are just going to get worse and worse.
Up the creek without a navy
MORE than 400 years ago the Spanish Armada set off for England to launch an invasion. Luckily for us the good ol’ British navy sailed in and managed to smash most of the Armada before the rest was taken out by a convenient storm. These days it looks like our naval defences might not be quite up to scratch. While our authorities have been spending millions of pounds on intelligence, police, and airport security, we’ve left our coasts guarded by just nine navy ships and a few police boats! A group of MPs are getting quite worried about this because it leaves us open to a terrorist threat and frankly, if the Spanish tried again, they’d probably get as far as Kensington before anyone noticed. I agree that our protection might need beefing up a little and that we need a few more boats out there. However, if we were invaded by beauties like my beach loving buddy Veronika Zemanova and her pals we’d welcome them with open arms.
We have lift off
BRITAIN announced yesterday that Major Timothy Peake is to be its first “official astronaut”. That confuses me, because Brits have been in space before. So were those trips into orbit “unofficial”? Did the UK chaps sneak on board as stowaways? And what does it mean to be an “official British astronaut”? While everyone else is in their space suits, will Tim have to wear a knotted hanky on his head? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Brits in space. In fact, we’re lucky to have the chance, since the UK government has given about 50p to the European manned space programme.

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