News Round Up

Plenty going on this morning – Today kept my attention for the whole 2 hour journey…

Blair apology to Soham parents

Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair has apologised to the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman for comments he made about the Soham murders.

Sir Ian Blair told the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) on Thursday that “almost nobody” could understand why it had become such a big story.

He called the media institutionally racist in its coverage of murders.

If Ian Blair hadn’t already convinced us all that he was a complete nitwit with his sophistry immediately after the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting, he certainly has now. To infer that race plays any part in the hysterical media coverage over the Soham murders is absurd: Blair admitted himself that the coverage of the Damilola Taylor murder was an exception to his theory. He asked why the “murders of white lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce and Asian builders’ merchant Balbir Matharu” didn’t received a similar level of publicity that the Soham ones did. The answer to this is so obvious I can’t be bothered to type this.

The shame is that Blair has a point, only he is too dim-witted to make it properly. The hysteria that engulfs the media after a tragedy like that which took place in Soham should be moderated in some way, but only because it is distastful, irrelevant and unhelpful. Not because it is in some way racially motivated, which it clearly isn’t.

Hughes to launch leadership bid

Simon Hughes is to formally launch his campaign for the Liberal Democrat leadership, a day after admitting he was “misleading” about his sexuality.

Good. To be honest, I don’t think he can, or should, be criticised for being ‘misleading’. I think many commentators have been too harsh on him, and treating the issue far too frivolously. I would imagine that coming out is not an easy thing to do, no matter what one’s personal beliefs on the matter, and, given that Hughes has had heterosexual relationships as well, there is clear evidence he had some sort of inner turmoil on the issue. That he feels the need to make statements about issues such as this shows that the sad state of affairs the media is still in in this country. Who cares, really?

The only way this could be of any significance would be if it somehow emerged that Hughes played a more active role in the shameful campaign for his election in the infamous Bermondsey by-election, the conduct of which he has apologised for.

Israel rules out talks with Hamas

Israeli interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out any talks with “an armed terror organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction”.

International mediators have urged Hamas to renounce violence, as efforts begin to form a new government.

Near-complete results gave Hamas 76 of the 132 seats in parliament.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas – who also heads the ruling Fatah party – has said he remains committed to a peaceful settlement.

This seems a fairly reasonable line for Israel to take, all things considered. Hamas’ election raises so many interesting issues: the rise of Islamists and their popularity with the Middle Eastern public; the fact that they are the first terrorist organisation to jump straight into power by passing most of the democratic ‘pyramid’ (to use a kind of footballing analogy); their commitment to a referendum to introduce sharia law.

It’s pretty frightening though too. Let’s hope that Hamas can be pulled towards the centre ground as Ariel Sharon found himself.