Russell Brand does a Bono

The New Stateman's choice of guest editor was hardly surprising.

It was probably a shrewd idea to ask Russell Brand to edit an edition of the New Statesman magazine. It will have tripled the magazine's circulation to about 27, said Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times, once "all [of] Russell's exes and his fan club" bought copies.

One of Brand's bugbears "is the humourless moral superiority of the bien-pensant left, which he thinks is a hindrance to the cause. He does not understand that it is actually indivisible from its cause."

In a 4,500-word piece, says Liddle, Brand whines about how unfair the world is. "Some people [very few, but including, by an awful coincidence, Brand himself] have loads of money, while others have very little. And we're destroying the planet, innit?"

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As Liddle says, publications only ever invite famous people who share their own precise world view to guest-edit. It might have been interesting to read an issue of The Independent edited by, say, Ariel Sharon. But "no chance".

What we got was Bono and you couldn't tell the difference from the normal paper. "Poverty howwible, Aids really, really howwible, Africa lovely."

Belgravia's building boom

Visiting a friend for dinner in Belgravia last week, I found major building work in progress next door, making it quite hard to find the entrance. "Don't get me started," said my friend her neighbours, apparently, are digging out a basement.

They're not the only ones. John Caudwell, founder of Phones4u, has bought two Mayfair properties which back onto one another, and submitted plans to Westminster council to create what his spokesman calls "a fitting Mayfair house". This means linking the pair with a 14,000 sq ft basement.

Once he's done, he'll have a total floorspace of 50,000 sq ft, only just less than Westminster Cathedral. The Daily Telegraph reckons Mr Caudwell will end up with a residential "complex" worth up to £250m. Perhaps it will be fun to live in, in addition to being valuable, but I don't envy the neighbours while it's being built.

The daylight robbery of the energy barons

I have no idea what to do about our energy firms, but I agree with Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph that Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of British Gas's parent company Centrica, is an example of the private sector "gone wrong".

British Gas has just announced a 9.2% price rise, despite the fact that Centrica made a record £2.7bn profit last year. Two days later it emerged that "Mr five-million-a-year' Laidlaw" had applied to build a second swimming pool in the grounds of his Cotswold house. "Presumably, the walk to the existing 150ft pool is a little arduous when one's wallet is so heavy," says Pearson.

"I don't begrudge Mr Laidlaw the fruits of his hard work, but daylight robbery is another matter. Savour the irony of the man who runs British Gas expending twice what the average UK home uses every year in energy on heating his pool."

Perhaps the odd pensioner, suggests Saga, could be allowed to have a dip in one of the pools when the weather gets chilly.

Tabloid money: Sugar v Clegg: a punch-up to savour

When Nick Clegg argued that rich folk like Lord Sugar, 66, shouldn't qualify for old folk's winter-fuel allowance, says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail, Sugar raged in response: "Why doesn't Cameron silence this idiot Clegg? Makes the Coalition look like a joke."

Now Clegg says of The Apprentice star: "I just think he's slightly thin-skinned. He drives around in that big Bentley on prime-time television and wafts around the House of Lords in ermine." Sugar v Clegg, says Hardcastle, "is a punch-up we can all savour".

"Heather Frost is the pink-haired, 37-year-old mother of 11 who gets £60,000 a year in benefits, has enough spare cash to buy a £1,000 parrot and owns a horse that costs £200 a month to keep," says Jane Moore in The Sun.

"Last week she appeared on Channel 5's TV show On Benefits And Proud, and revealed that she frequently buys goods from shoplifters because they do it at half price what the shop does'. Unsurprisingly, she has now been questioned by police.

So, at least we now know why she doesn't have a job she's too stupid. But still not as idiotic as a benefits system that appears to unquestioningly fund her idle, morally questionable lifestyle."

"Ryanair says it needs to improve its image," writes Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. "Yes, and the way to do that is to gag their foul-mouthed boss Michael O'Leary and lock him up somewhere where he can't do any more damage.

This is the man who said punters who couldn't print boarding cards before going to airports were idiots' who deserved a hefty fine. He also said he was going to charge passengers so much for their luggage they wouldn't be able to afford to bring any. He even wanted to charge them for having a pee aboard the plane.

I'm hoping the calls for an image change are the result of plummeting profits because passengers have told O'Leary to stick his airline where the sun don't shine." As they should. He clearly despises them.