Pick of the Week: Tristram Hunt’s many slip-ups
Our top stories of the week, for your reading pleasure…
Nearly a year after we first reported of its existence, the prisoner book ban was finally reversed. Along the way there were countless protests and letter campaigns, but it was ultimately stopped by lawyers working hundreds of hours for free on a judicial review. Lawyers have always been seen as an untrustworthy bunch, from Shakespeare's time to now. But very quietly, behind the scenes, some are more principled and determined than their reputation would suggest.
Transport for London board member John Armitt won himself no friends whatsoever among cyclists after a strange rant in which he blamed their road death on… well, them. The National Express Group chairman was trying to block Boris Johnson's plans for segregated cycling lanes in London. There's still a lot of opposition to the lanes, despite strong public support.
As the Green party has risen in prominence, has been subject to a new level of scrutiny from journalists. Leader Natalie Bennett visibly struggled to answer questions about some of her flagship policies while being interrogated by Andrew Neil recently and there is a sense that the party may not be able to withstand the heat of the election campaign. But for Green MEP Molly Scott Cato this is just conservatism masquerading as robust debate.
Another week, another debacle by the Ministry of Justice. The department kick-started its plans for the private sector to get those who'd done short prison sentences onto the straight and narrow. The only problem was, no-one actually knew what they were. From magistrates to probation staff, there was blanket confusion about what the new scheme entails. Perhaps if they'd put the same effort into implementation that they'd put into the press campaign…
Labour's education spokesman has not had a good week. He ended it in a fight with nuns on Question Time. He hadn't really done anything wrong, of course. This is British politics. It is no longer necessary to have done something wrong to be in trouble. But being seen in a row with nuns is not considered sensible for front bench politicians. His other slip up came while messing about on – where else? – Twitter. When one member of the public asked him for his education policies, Hunt replied by sending him a link to the Labour website and writing: "Stop moaning. Read the speeches. Do some work." Again: not a good look. As the father of two told us afterwards: "I think politicians have lost the idea of who their employers really are."