Mummy is going to be Prime Minister

Just love the storey about the ‘lasagne plot’

At a Lasgne party organised by Mr and Mrs Balls when the couple’s children performed a party piece, one of the guests said: ‘Well done. You would clearly make a great leader of the Labour Party.’

One of the children replied: ‘No, my mummy is going to get that job.’



Final Milkrun before #NPPF publication

We know that Greg Clark has completed his redraft of the NPPF, and the fact that his has personally done so seems to be scaring civil servents to death.

So how long to final publication?

Well there will be a ‘milkrun’ around other depts, drafting of the select committee response and drafting of the final impact assessment – will take 4-6 weeks so on course for mid march plus a couple of weeks float – with the dept is indicating this is the realistic timetable.

Very great degree of secrecy on content.  Two possibilities.

Firstly it will change very little, and a media silence to manage (delay) this

Secondly much of it not yet cast in stone and real interdepartmental negotiations, especially with the treasury, could not really begin until ministers had completed drafting.

My theory is the latter, otherwise Ministers would not have raised expectations.

The next few weeks will be interesting, a major NT/CPRE report coming out, which I helped persuade them to commission and some CPRE research I have just completed – watch this space.

Expats miss English Countryside more than Anything Else


Expats are most likely to miss the beautiful British countryside, according to a survey.

Nearly half of those questioned – 46 per cent – said they longed for rolling hills and ancient woodlands, with those living in the United Arab Emirates missing it the most.

Second was the British sense of humour, with 42 per cent of the 1,034 questioned listing it among the things they missed.

Pubs, at 41 per cent, were third with those living in Australia longing for them the most. The least missed aspects of UK life were politics and the weather.

Despite these pangs for home, expats are generally positive about their new life overseas – with more than two thirds (68 per cent) saying they are happier abroad.

Nicholas Boys Smith of Lloyds TSB International, which commissioned the survey, said: ‘Often you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone so it speaks glowingly of our countryside that expats around the world miss it so much.

‘Many expats have an element of the adventurer about them, but they still long for certain aspects of British life that some people here might take for granted.

‘An overwhelming majority are happy with their life overseas, but the British countryside, as well as our sense of humour and the great British pub, are all things that they miss abroad.’

Oddly, having lived in the desert, countryside that looks like it has been rained on is oddly life affirming.

‘Cathedral of Middlesex’ Bought by English Heritage


A medieval barn in west London described by poet Sir John Betjeman as the “Cathedral of Middlesex” has been bought by English Heritage for £20,000.

Grade I-listed Harmondsworth Barn is ranked alongside the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey for its historic value, the body said.

Built in 1426 by Winchester College, it has undergone some repairs, but remains largely as it was built.

English Heritage said it would save it from neglect and decay…

In 2009, English Heritage became concerned about the barn’s deteriorating condition and issued an urgent works notice for emergency repairs to keep it water and wind-tight.

A dispute over payment for the emergency works led to English Heritage buying the barn for £20,000 at the end of last year.