AS the gaggle of screaming mostly teenage fans at New Street station in Birmingham reached a crescendo, a passer-by was well within her rights to ask the question. “Is there a rock star?” she queried in response to the Justin Beiber-esque mania that had gripped the always busy but seldom crazy train station.
Well he does has big floppy hair, loves a stage and his arrival always causes a stir but the unlikely reception was for Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson whose arrival in the northern Labour-city of Birmingham was this week likened to the famous platform arrival of Vladimir Lenin who stepped onto Finland Station in St Petersburg to begin the Russian Revolution.
And in many ways the arrival of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in Birmingham late last year (2012) is the start of what could be a great upheaval this year not just for the Tories but British politics in general which is as desperate for a hero as Canberra’s federal parliament is for respect, appreciation and talent.
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Even Julian Assange’s own legal team were scrambling tonight to get on top of the judgement from the UK Supreme Court to reject his appeal against extradition to Sweden, asking for a two-week stay as it rested on a point of law not raised during the hearings.
So it’s best to leave the legal arguments to the Law Lords.
But there’s a principle at play here that is anathema to our system here at home, like it or not Assange’s home. Secrecy.
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Today in 1951 Winston Churchill won the British general election and became prime minister for the second time.
And it’s Tuesday at The Punch. What’s on your mind? Share it here.
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Everyone’s got pet hates. Mine include sniffing milk to “see” if it’s still ok to drink, spitting in public streets, couples who refer to themselves in the third person and people that persist in holiday countdowns on their Facebook updates.
But just because this is my list, that doesn’t mean that all Australian people want to throw up when they watch someone’s nose nestle into the lid of a communal carton of milk or clears their throat and deposits the contents onto the street.
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After a torrent of undiplomatic language in the days after they discovered that Israel had used forged Australian passports in the assassination plot against a terrorist gun dealer in Dubai, Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith have fallen silent.
The British Government has stepped up its diplomatic offensive against Tel Aviv over the passport scandal by expelling Mossad’s London station chief, but Canberra has so far not followed suit although we have abstained from a vote in the United Nations.
Britain has a much more robust tradition of hard headed diplomacy than Australia. Our diplomats are trained to whisper and dance a two-step with the devil rather than risk the megaphone and a public confrontation.
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Retirement never comes easy to politicians. There’s a long line of prime ministers and presidents who, upon leaving office, struggle either to settle back into ordinary life or to fade into the shadows with quiet dignity.
Some verge on the comical. The patrician figure of Harold Macmillan was known in his political afterlife to deliver impromptu lectures to train conductors about the history of the British railway system.
Others mope in operatic self-pity, with periodic and spectacular volcanic eruptions: Paul Keating the Retirement. Some meanwhile never quite manage to surrender their indomitable will to power.
Last November, a curious list was posted to various websites in England.
It had no author, it carried no commentary but included the names, occupations, addresses and personal details of some 12,000 people who were members of the British National Party.
The privacy breach may have been of concern to some liberal commentators but for British authorities and political leaders, it was an alarming wake up to the rise-and-rise of the far right movement in the UK.
Read all about it
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