Boris Johnson's floundering interview with the BBC's Eddie Mair a few weeks ago did him no harm at all. An opinion poll suggested his ratings actually went up after the show. I don't find this odd. People look at Boris and like him. It doesn't seem to matter very much what he says.
Nigel Farage has a similar effect. As the FT Magazine put it in a respectful profile a couple of months ago, this "heavy smoking, beer-drinking maverick" is a man "lodged in the public consciousness as a jovial insurgent, dispensing bar-room wisdom with remorseless good cheer".
Even many of his enemies like him (an asset he shares with Boris). In The Guardian this week, Marina Hyde wondered if we should judge politicians by the key question: "could you honestly bear to have a pint with them?" Hyde could bear to have a pint with Farage ("a pint and a fag, and probably a packet of salt and vinegar crisps"), but not with Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband or David Cameron, all of whom she would "cross continents to avoid taking even a fluid ounce.
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The other leaders and I do think we must refer to them in the same breath as Farage, just because it annoys them so hilariously much look about as convivial as haemorrhoids". Farage, as Hyde says, "wears pretty much everything lightly, from blazers to budgetary black holes". This is true. Like Boris, he smiles a lot. He laughs a lot. He exudes optimism. He makes people feel better. It's a great gift, one that can't be taught. And very few politicians have it.
The sad decline of The Apprentice
I rather enjoyed the first series of The Apprentice ten years ago. It never had more than the remotest connection with business, of course, but it was quite fun. I don't feel that way now. The Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir, faced this week with the start of a ninth season featuring the usual rabble of "hopeless show offs" and the "liverish" Alan Sugar, was dismayed: "Noooo! For how much longer can this torture go on?"
The format "is now more threadbare than Sugar's noggin". Little more than six million viewers tuned in to last year's final, the lowest audience figures since the show was upgraded to prime-time BBC1 in 2007.
What's gone wrong? "I blame the ever-decreasing quality of the crummy contestants," says Moir. "A decade on from the first series and every single one of them appears to have sunk back into the swamp of success-free anonymity with the exception of 2010 winner Stella English." (Earlier this year, English hit the headlines after suing Sir Alan for constructive dismissal, and losing.)
The problem is that the wannabes who sign up for programmes like this are for the most part self-serving attention seekers "who couldn't stack a shelf after a six-month shelf-stacking course". It's no surprise that none of these "self-styled hot-shots" has gone on to make a huge success of their business lives. And this, says Moir, apart from stretching our credulity, "kind of makes the whole thing a lame waste of time".
Tabloid money: 'Cameron must range deeper into Tory territory'
Economic recovery, if it happens, won't guarantee the Tories re-election, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. Cameron "must range deeper into traditional Tory territory. Ideally, he should scrap high-speed rail, pensioner perks, windmills and overseas aid, using the billions saved to help hard-working taxpayers. But he won't budge an inch on these promises. That means he must deliver what he has offered on Europe. Thanks to Ukip, I believe his referendum promise is safe whoever wins in 2015.
"So first, Mr Cameron must spell out precisely what powers he aims to bring back from Brussels and deliver them. At the very least these must include control over our borders and the vexed issue of human rights. Then, to prove beyond all doubt that he really is serious on Europe, he must sack Ken Clarke."
"According to new research, there will be only seven white people left in Britain by the year 2070, and they'll be a small family of Romanian thieves," says Rod Liddle in The Sun. "The rest of us will be dead, or fled. OK, I exaggerate but the latest study from Oxford University is a bit chilling, unless you're a Guardian reader with alfalfa sprouts between your ears instead of a functioning brain.
"By 2070, it suggests, white British people will be a minority. Even by 2015 we will overtake the US to become the most ethnically diverse country on earth. And if you say, well, look, I don't much want my country to become like this, and I certainly never voted for it, you'll get called a racist. But have the vast numbers of immigrants made us a safer, happier and more prosperous country? I don't think so."
When Ofwat's chief executive, Regina Finn, was questioned by Watchdog's Anne Robinson over high water charges, says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail, "she responded superficially: I think that's a very good question.' And she failed to explain why the UK's water wastage rate of 24% is worse than Cambodia's. I think we might pull the plug on Regina".
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