Nigel’s New Book

Excerpts are being published in the Telegraph: Cancer, a lemon-sized testicle and how the NHS failed me.

It was astonishing. For the best part of two months I had been fobbed off by one NHS doctor to the next — apart from my own GP, all the rest thought I had nothing more serious than a common cold. All they had had to do that first night in A&E was to have me referred for a scan. I remember feeling the most profound sense of fury, that my cancer was just so unfair. For two and a half days, I just thought: ‘‘This is going to be it.’’ I had so much I wanted to do, so much I was sure in my mind I was going to achieve. And I was in love with Clare.

That fury was so overwhelming. I don’t know whether every cancer sufferer feels the same way, whether you are 21, 41 or 82. But I certainly did. The effect on my family was astonishing. It is only now, at the age of 50 and as a father of four (two sons and two daughters), that I realise how my own parents must have felt. Years later a friend told me — and I agree — that my diagnosis was worse for my parents than for me.

(And scroll down for the poll, with surprising results)

Top Gear and Clarkson

The Telegraph reports that Top Gear ‘will not be scrapped’ if Clarkson is sacked

Jeremy Clarkson says it might be time for him to leave Top Gear. It comes as the BBC said it will continue broadcasting Top Gear even if Clarkson does not return, insiders have suggested.

Speaking for the first time in his Sun column, the star described himself as a “dinosaur” and said: “The day must come when you wave goodbye to the big monsters and move on. We lose one animal and get another. The world turns.”

While the controversial but popular presenter’s fate is yet to be decided, BBC bosses are understood to be working on contingency plans to carry on making the motoring show whatever the outcome.

The Guardian also reports on the spat. The Noel Edmunds link is interesting.

The Daily Mail reports that Clarkson may just go for himself rather than be shoved: Time for old dinosaurs like me to move on hints Jeremy Clarkson: Top Gear host ponders life after the BBC


The Telegraph tells us about an NHS scheme which is ‘like a police line-up’

A hospital has been criticised after patients were forced to parade their conditions on laminated signs, under a new scheme likened to “a police line-up”. Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, has introduced a trial which sees Accident & Emergency patients given cards detailing their medical condition.

Hospital managers say the initiative – which labels patients according to their level of urgency – is designed to help speed up waiting times. All patients are given a green or red laminated cards detailing their condition – meaning those with alcohol problems, mental health issues and gynaecological problems – could lose patient confidentiality.

Elizabeth Reid, 49, from Chelmsford, said she was appalled to encounter the scheme, after turning to A&E. “I arrived at the hospital and was first seen by a nurse who assessed my condition and gave me a laminated green card with it written on,” she said. “I didn’t mind much for me as I had hurt my ankle but I thought it was disgusting that patients with alcohol problems or mental health issues had to carry cards that showed everyone what was wrong with them.”

Lib Dem – SNP Deal?

The Guardian reports that Vince Cable says Lib Dem-SNP deal after election is inconceivable.

Vince Cable has declared that it would be inconceivable for the Liberal Democrats to agree to any post-election deal involving the Scottish National party after the general election.

With polls indicating that a link-up between Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems would the most likely combination that can form an overall majority, the business secretary said it would be wrong to “get into tie-ups” with a party committed to the breakup of the UK.

In a Guardian interview before the Lib Dem spring conference in Glasgow, Cable said: “It’s virtually inconceivable that you can have a coalition with a party that is committed to breaking up your country. We just don’t see how it could happen.”

Phone Hacking

The Guardian reports that Trinity Mirror may face corporate charges over alleged phone hacking

Trinity Mirror is facing a possible corporate prosecution over allegations of industrial scale phone hacking at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the People, the high court in London has heard.

The newspaper group is a “co-operating suspect” in the Metropolitan police’s Operation Golding investigation into voicemail interception at the three tabloids, the court was told on Friday.

The development leaves Trinity Mirror fighting legal battles on two fronts after it emerged that around 40 celebrities, including the actors Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant, have filed damages claims against the publisher since last week. The possibility of corporate charges emerged at the civil trial brought by eight victims of phone hacking, including the actor Sadie Frost, against the Trinity Mirror-owned subsidiary Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

Greece and Germany

The Guardian reports that Angela Merkel’s office denies ‘private feud’ between Greece and Germany

The spokesman of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has denied a “private feud” has broken out between Berlin and Athens, as the radical Syriza government battles to avoid leaving the single currency – a risk euro-watchers have dubbed “Grexident”.

As Athens rushes to implement economic reforms and convince its creditors to extend emergency funding, Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s official spokesman, insisted Greece’s economic future should not be reduced to a face off between the two nations.

“I neither see a private feud nor do I view the whole issue of Greece and how it solves its problems as a bilateral German-Greek topic”, he said, reiterating that Merkel wants Greece to stay inside the single currency.

The Mail, however, reports it as a more public disagreement: Germany prepares for Greek exit from the euro as Angela Merkel finally runs out of patience with country’s new anti-austerity government

Germany is bracing itself for a period of chaos and instability amid claims Greece will exit from the euro.  Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he is resigned to the possibility of a Greek exit from the calamitous euro experiment.

In a TV interview on Thursday evening he was asked if he could envisage it and he replied: ‘Yes, because the responsibility, the ability to decide what happens, resides with the Greeks, and because we do not know what the leaders intend to do in Greece, we cannot exclude it.’

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also run out of patience with the new anti-austerity government in Athens, reports suggested. Their comments represent a tectonic shift from the previous undiluted support Germany offered Greece – a country whose financial mismanagement is loathed by EU lawmakers.


The Independent reports that littering is becoming ‘endemic’ after dramatic rises in fly-tipping and Government inaction

Dramatic increases in fly-tipping and the number of fast food outlets combined with a lack of action by the Government have contributed to littering becoming “endemic” in England, according to a report published today.

Tougher littering fines should be considered to ease the huge financial burden of the clean-up operation, the report by a committee of MPs suggested. Littering costs taxpayers up to £850 million a year in England, but the standard on-the-spot fine is only £80.

Ministers should urgently introduce a national litter strategy to deal with the problem before struggling local councils become overwhelmed, the Communities and Local Government Committee recommended

A Green Ball

The Independent tells us that activists see red at Greens’ £1,000-a-head ball

For a party committed to a radical redistribution of wealth, it was a surprising move. The Green Party announced plans to hold a black tie – or alternatively green tie – fundraiser this month for its ambitious general election campaign, with the cheapest tickets at £1,000.

The minimum cost of going to the bash at a central London hotel was twice the price of standard tickets to the Conservatives’ much-mocked black-and-white ball last month. Guests were being offered champagne, a three-course dinner, a speech by the leader, Natalie Bennett, and a “stimulating Q&A session”. That was to be followed by a “green auction” and a drinks reception lasting into the small hours.

(Ed: Surely, it should be home-made elderflower sparkling wine, not French champagne?)


The Independent report on Ed Miliband’s 2015 pledge card: Policies to be promised from health care to tuition fees

Ed Miliband has been careful to distance himself from Tony Blair, but he will today borrow from the New Labour playbook as he launches the party’s general election pledge card. Mr Blair boiled down his pitch for power ahead of his 1997 landslide victory into five promises on the education, health, unemployment, crime and tax.

The current Labour leader will unveil his 2015 version of the pledge card in which he promises Labour would balance the nation’s books, freeze energy bills, recruit more nurses and doctors, tighten immigration controls and cut university tuition fees.

Meanwhile the Mirror reports that Ed Miliband attacks Tories’ war on poor and tax breaks for wealthy in five-point election battle plan.

Ed Miliband will urge voters to boot out the heartless Tories as he sets out Labour’s vision of a fairer Britain for all. The party leader is to deliver five major pledges to overturn the damage Prime Minister David Cameron has inflicted on the NHS, education and hard-pressed families with his ideology-led austerity drive.

And in a scathing attack on the PM’s war on the poor while lining the pockets of his rich chums with tax breaks, Mr Miliband will warn of the consequences of five more years of harsh Tory rule. He is to say the choice on polling day is between “hope and optimism” offered by Labour and the “fear and pessimism” peddled by the Conservatives.

Rail Travel

The Mail reports on the commuter train where it’s standing room only… for fatties: South West Trains apologise for ‘disgusting’ announcement urging fat people to stay on their feet due to overcrowding

Passengers on a packed train were left shocked after an announcer said fat people should not sit down because of a lack of space. The train was full of commuters when a member of staff reportedly said: ‘We are going to be like sardines on this train, so can I ask that only slim people sit on the three-seaters. If you are fat then it is simply not going to work.’

One angry passenger on the service, which was leaving Basingstoke, Hampshire, said: ‘I am not necessarily a big person but most people are larger than those seats anyway.  ‘It’s pretty disgusting. I would get fired if I said that at my work.’

South West Trains apologised, saying that if the comment had been made it was ‘unacceptable’. ‘All passengers are welcome on board our trains and we would find it unacceptable if that comment had been made by one of our employees,’ a spokesman said.  ‘We run some of the busiest trains in the country and we do appreciate that space on some of our trains is limited. To provide extra space and seats for our customers, we are in the process of investing £250m in extra carriages and new trains.’

Sex Education

Just to help set your blood boiling the Mail reports on Sex Education in our schools with “Are those porn stars enjoying their jobs? The sex questions children aged 11 will be asked in government-backed lessons

Children as young as 11 will be encouraged to critique the performance of porn stars under government-backed lessons. Youngsters could be quizzed about adult films by teachers in a bid to teach them about the issue of consent. Staff are told to be prepared that pupils may argue that ‘taking part is just like any job, and that people often do jobs that they don’t like’.

But furious critics have attacked the personal, social and health education lessons (PSHE) for children aged 11 to 16 as a ‘free advertisement for the porn industry’. They warn that the classes could encourage young children to watch adult films.

The latest PSHE guidance – commissioned by the Department for Education and backed by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Home Secretary Theresa May – was published yesterday. Produced by the PSHE Association, which is funded by the Government, it is designed to help schools teach the issue of consent at Key Stage 3 and 4.

Islamic State

The Express reports an exclusive: ‘Desperate’ Islamic State to get MORE brutal as their grip loosens, says expert

However, in response to suffering a series of (ISIS) setbacks and seeing large swathes of their territory coming under threat, the Islamic State – also known as ISIS or ISIL – are likely to increase their levels of brutality , it is feared. The group have frequently released propaganda videos, often featuring the murders of hostages.

Dr Natasha Underhill, an expert on Middle Eastern and international terrorism at Nottingham Trent University, told “It’s too soon to dismiss ISIS completely.  I think we’re going to see increases in violence – which is a sign of power, from their perspective anyway. The goal for any terrorist organisation is to promote terror, to promote fear.  I think ISIS have become masters at that by the sheer brutality of their tactics and the fact they have now been pushed back by Allied forces. I think [the videos] are going to be a way for them to say ‘We’re still here, we’re still dangerous and we’re still willing to do whatever it takes’.”


The Express reports that David Cameron pledges to reform Britain’s membership of EU and migrant benefits (Ed: Do we believe that?)

DAVID CAMERON yesterday insisted he will win his battle to reform the EU and said he was prepared to force through a treaty change to make it tougher for migrants to claim British benefits. The Prime Minister also defended his plans for a referendum on Britain’s membership, denying he was taking a dangerous risk and creating uncertainty for businesses.

He said he hoped the referendum could be held as early as next year if the Conservatives win the general election rather than waiting until his promised deadline of the end of 2017. “Of course if you can do it in 2016 nobody would be more glad than me, but I expect it will take longer because there are quite a lot of moving parts,” he said.

He acknowledged that some Tory MPs would “vote to leave altogether” whatever deal he was able to strike, but insisted that the party would unite in the aftermath of the referendum, saying: “I think there can be a coming together after that.” Mr Cameron suggested the toughest challenge he faces in negotiations with fellow EU leaders was to bring in tougher rules on foreign welfare claimants – which would need a treaty change.

(Ed: And there’s the rub, it isn’t going to happen!)

Election Debates

The Mirror reports that David Cameron accuses TV bosses of ‘cocking up’ the controversial election debates

Flapping David Cameron has accused TV bosses of “cocking up” the controversial election debates. The PM hit out amid ongoing criticism of his refusal to take part in a head-to-head contest with Labour boss Ed Miliband.

He said: “I’ve been totally disappointed that the broadcasters have gone off and done their own thing. They’ve totally cocked it up.” And he renewed his demand for just one debate with all the parties before the full campaign begins.


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