Wednesday, 10 June 2009

I'm betting on Barack

AMERICA’S Top Boy Barack Obama has been clocking up his Air Miles this week. While Bungling Bush, his White House predecessor, probably reckoned an international flight meant going from Washington to New York, President O is happy zipping off to the Middle East. As you read this, the jet-setter will be in France to commemorate the war dead on the beaches of Normandy. I imagine the first half of his trip was trickier than the second half. He has his work cut out trying to sort out the region’s problems. It’s something every President has worked on for decades. I reckon Barack’s got a good chance of making a breakthrough because he’s exceptionally clever and, also, he seems really nice. Hot topics on his plate include Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. With so many meetings and press conferences, I doubt he even had time for a steam bath or camel trek. I was in the Middle East on Parliamentary business recently. But my visit didn’t have the same impact as Barack’s. So what’s he got that I haven’t—apart from hundreds of staff, giant Hummers, guns, body guards and a trillion dollar budget? Well, OK, all those things, but he doesn’t get to write for the Daily Sport, so I guess we’re even.
THIS week has seen the largest number of Cabinet ministerial resignations since time began, or at least since my own personal records began anyway (about 20 years ago). With public anger at politicians and low popularity ratings, lots of government ministers are resigning their jobs. That’s probably because they’d rather stand down than have the humiliation of being sacked. You see, Gordon is planning a big Cabinet re-shuffle for Monday, when he’ll move his MPs around anyway. The problem now is that with Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears and lots of junior ministers all bowing out, the Cabinet has become a sort of self-shuffling pack, with most of the cards ending up on the floor. He’ll need lots of new ministers now. As always, there’ll be competition for the top posts, like Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. So things will get a wee bit heated in Westminster. This is a really important time. Because whatever goes on, these are going to be the people helping Flash Gordon run the country until the next election, probably next year. A lot could happen between now and then so we need good folks at the helm. Still, the way things are going, everyone else might have resigned by next week too. What then? At the current rate, the country might end up being run by… well, ME! So if I’m PM by Monday, the first thing I’ll do is throw a great party in Downing Street with exclusive coverage only in the Daily Sport. It would also mean I’ll have to select a Cabinet from my friends. Hmmm… if you’re interested, just drop me a line, and two million quid. (If you’re lucky, I’ll even throw in a peerage).
WHAT are you doing to save pennies in the recession? Cutting back on the curries? Nights in with a movie, instead of out on the lash? People are doing all sorts of things to stretch their spondulicks. But some companies have taken some rather more bizarre steps. One Spanish bank —BBVA —is offering staff a FIVE-YEAR break from work. It is giving employees a “lump sum” if they agree to clear off till 2014 on “unpaid leave”. What a great idea. Imagine being paid to bum around for half a decade You’d get all the DIY sorted, and find the time to watch the whole back catalogue of Tricia. But while the Spanish get longer hols, the British get smaller sweets. Mars bars and Snickers have got smaller. Chocolate giant Mars UK has “downsized” the tasty treats by a few grams . . . but kept the prices the same. That’s a novel saving. My staff member, Basil, has taken it a step further. He took his suit into a dry cleaners, which promptly went bankrupt. The “liquidators” confiscated his clothes as part of the company’s assets. I hope that doesn’t happen to Sport babe Lorna Gilchrist. After all, in those circumstances —like Basil—the only suit she could wear to the office would be her birthday suit.
TOMORROW’S 65th D-Day anniversary remembers a dangerous and world-changing event –– the day our troops stormed the beaches of France to fight the Nazis. More than 156,000 Brits, Canadians and Americans along with Australians, New Zealanders, Irish and others fighting for Britain landed at Normandy and defeated Hitler’s troops. Thousands never came home. Many didn’t make it off the boats before they were killed by enemy fire. Ceremonies are taking place across France and around the world to thank veterans and those who gave their lives. These lads were real heroes. We think we’ve got it tough now, but imagine in 1944, going up the beaches being shot to bits with almost no cover. It is a long time, 65 years, but the freedom they secured is everlasting.

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