Discover America, says the tourist campaign. Unless the computer says no
• Massoud Shadjareh’s last trip to the US was uneventful. Having studied at Berkeley University in California, he was able to take his children down memory lane. He enjoyed the sights, met with relatives. But the next trip might not go as smoothly. Shadjareh, chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission and the driving force behind a controversial demonstration outside the US embassy in Mayfair this Friday, says he has had his visa to visit the US – valid until 2014 – revoked. “There has been no explanation,” he says. “I have never given any talks or anything like that in the states. It’s all very strange.” The embassy can’t or won’t shed light on an individual case. But he does have political enemies, and we know that the US antenna is famously sensitive. In February a British couple were banned from entering the US after tweeting that they were off to “destroy America”. It means partying to excess, they explained. To no avail.
• The coalition stumbles on, and one would have thought Labour would be taking advantage. But in the red corner, things are quiet. Perhaps they’re being retrained. Certainly that is the case on Exeter city council, where members face social media tuition after Labourite Catherine Dawson was caught being beastly about Ben Howlett, the chair of Conservative Future. In a 5am tweet, she called him a “cheap little prick”. Big mistake. No one likes being called cheap.
• That sound in west London, meanwhile, is the opening of a can of worms. For it seemed the issue of an alleged attempt to nobble a standards watchdog in Hounslow was going to be kicked into the long grass. Said watchdog, the former Met detective sergeant Gurpal Virdi, an independent member of Hounslow council’s standards committee, went to the authority with evidence that a well-connected figure tried to get him on side over a planning dispute. A complaint was made to Scotland Yard, which declined to investigate. But if those said to be implicated breathed a sigh of relief, it was premature. Because Virdi, who retired from the Met earlier this year, is famously dogged, having previously brought and won a string of legal actions against the Met as the victim of false allegations and discrimination. Thus we learn that following further talks, the matter now has a crime number and is being looked into. In uniform or out, Virdi tends not to give up on things.
• Though the Olympics were a triumph, many hope the Paralympics will do better in terms of gender equality. Someone might have a word with the official kit provider, Adidas. The women’s GB football shirt was out of stock online for almost the entire duration of the Games, and things seemed no better at Adidas’s flagship store in Oxford Street. When one customer asked for the women’s GB football shirt, a sales assistant tartly informed her that they weren’t stocking it. Too many lines to stock, they said. Something had to give. Still, there were hockey skirts for the girls. They like pink, don’t they?
• Finally, it is the stated wish of Alex Healey, the 17-year-old son of John Healey, the Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, not to get too deeply involved in representative politics. But, on the evidence of a webchat the young man has hosted about his life as the son of a prominent MP, that would be a shame. Not many of his age, in his position, could comfortably say “ask me anything” and expose themselves without ruin to questioning – some of it hostile – on Labour’s political direction, fiscal policy and the war in Iraq – “I was in year three at the time (I was eight years old). I didn’t speak to him for a couple of days”. Also his dad’s expenses; his father’s reason for leaving the shadow cabinet – “I was about to finish school and I don’t think people realise how much it takes to be a minister/shadow minister. I saw him basically once a week”. “Has growing up as a son of a politician encouraged or deterred you from trying to become an MP in the future,” one questioner asks him. “Good question,” replies Alex. ”The long and short of it is, it has completely discouraged me.” Still, there’s hope and there’s time.
Other posts from this source: Hugh Muir