Peter Rhodes on Churchill, election promises and lies about loos

Security tests for airport staff are reportedly being completed “in record time.” That's worrying. Some things are best not turned into a race.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

If Boris Johnson simply wasn't too bothered about an MP groping other men, he may have been channelling his inner Winston Churchill. The great wartime leader was told by an aide that a minister had been caught having sex with a guardsman in a London park when the temperature was well below zero. “Makes you proud to be British,” said Churchill.

The difference is that those sub-zero shenanigans were consensual. Pinchergate is less about sex and more about the use, and abuse, of power. And from the moment it broke, this scandal had a strong whiff of straw about it. The last straw.

Meanwhile, what are we to make of Keir Starmer's promise to “make Brexit work?” I am reminded of the Lib-Dems who raged against tuition fees. But when they went into Coalition with the Tories in 2010, they abandoned that pledge – and some Lib-Dems have never forgiven Nick Clegg for it. It's quite likely that if Labour did well in the next general election but failed to get a majority, it would look for coalition with the Lib-Dems, Greens and others whose aim is not to Make Brexit Work but to Make Brexit History. In coalitions, all pre-election promises are piecrust.

Well done, those councillors in Shropshire calling for average-speed limits on a dangerous stretch of the A41. Average-speed cameras are usually seen on motorways, not A roads and they have always struck me as much fairer than the usual cameras which nick you for a single second's inattention. When you're in an average-speed zone, you at least have a chance to lower your speed before the camera clicks. The process recognises human fallibility and even offers redemption. A very biblical sort of deterrent.

I've no idea what goes on in the heads of people who want men and women to share the same toilets but they need a good dose of common sense and simple decency. It may have arrived in the form of a new Government promise that: “All new public buildings should have separate male and female toilets.” The problem? Time after time, solemn pledges made in Whitehall are “interpreted” differently by local councils. Our WCs may yet be watered down.

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