Hosting the G8 summit is a double-edged sword for George Osborne.
On the one hand he likes the prestige of having powerful neighbours like Barack Obama and Angela Merkel round to visit.
But he can’t bear to show them the mess he’s got the place in with three years of slashing all that moves.
So he’s spent £300,000 of our money painting over the downturn in Fermanagh, the Northern Ireland county where the summit will take place next week.
Billboard-sized scenic pictures have been put in front of derelict shops and abandoned building sites.
Closed down shops have been done up with bespoke displays to make them appear to be still in use. Any G8 delegate passing Flanagan’s butchers, for example, will imagine business is booming.
But the ruse will only last as long as none of the visiting dignitaries feel peckish enough to try and buy something—and find that all the meat is just a drawing.
Phil Flanagan, a relative of the former owners, said, “I’ve never seen painters as busy”.
While he was glad to see at least some government money creating work in the area, Phil called the cover up of closures “a huge lie and a false economy”.
False economy is what Osborne’s all about. Why shouldn’t he use the G8 to show off his ability to cover up economic failure? After all, it’s what he does for the rest of the year.
How best to remember the horrific massacre of 14 civil rights protesters by the British army in Derry in 1972?
For the Adventure Bar in London’s Covent Garden, the answer seems to be with a comedy cocktail.
In case there was any doubt as to the subject of its new “Sundae Bloody Sundae” cocktail, it’s even topped with a toy British soldier firing his rifle.
Ukip’s manifesto called the two thirds of households in Britain who claim benefits “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”.
But no one seems to have told newly elected Ukip councillor Peter Lagoda of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
He was up in court last week, accused of fraudulently claiming benefits after his salary changed.
Murdoch cuts, runs and puts on disguise
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s firm News Corp is set to cancel its listing on the London Stock Exchange.
Its reputation lies in tatters in Britain after the phone hacking scandal and the Hillsborough cover up.
So Murdoch wants to shift the focus of his empire to the US.
He’s also brought in a new logo based on a blend of his own and his father’s handwriting.
It’s meant to look more honest. But an honest description of News Corp might look very different.
Hating Michael Gove
Tory education secretary Michael Gove’s new history curriculum has come under a blistering new attack—from one of the very historians Gove drafted in to advise him.
Simon Schama called it “insulting and offensive”, “pedantic”, “ridiculous” and more. He’s not alone.
People queuing for Schama’s talk were heard asking “is this the queue for hating Michael Gove?”
Tax boss hired to help tax avoiders
Congratulations are in order for former tax chief Dave Hartnett. He’s got a new job ten months after retiring as head of the HMRC tax office.
Hartnett’s sweetheart deals had let firms like Starbucks and Vodafone avoid billions in tax.
Now he’s got a lucrative contract with Deloitte—the accountants for both Starbucks and Vodafone.
Hartnett had 48 meetings with Deloitte boss David Cruickshank in his HMRC days, to discuss Vodafone and more. Sounds like they paid off.
Former CIA boss David Petraeus is back to his old tricks.
As a four star general in Iraq and Afghanistan he used to help the US ruling class bully its way into rest of the world.
Sounds a lot like his new job, as an advisor on investment in new locations for hedge fund KKR.
A £250,000 bill for the old bill’s red-faced raiders
- The Metropolitan Police had to pay this much for smashing down the “wrong” people’s doors last year
- Cops had to admit to 931 “false entries”. That’s about 17 every week—and that’s just in London
- Their costs include boarding up the doors they’ve kicked in, often in balaclava-clad raids at the crack of dawn
Cops called in for dozy Dave’s Ibiza getaway
David Cameron had a special assignment for London’s police days after the Woolwich killing.
He almost ruined his Ibiza holiday, arriving at Gatwick airport only to realise he’d forgotten his passport. But the cops were happy to oblige with a 30 mile dash from Downing Street.
At least he didn’t forget his daughter this time.