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Columnists
Issue 1390
agri brigade
With Bio-Waste Spreader: "It’s business as usual at the useless Rural Payments Agency, which is making a pig’s ear of attempts to introduce the basic payment scheme, the idiotic new subsidy which will pay UK farmers €4bn a year whether they produce any food or not. In February Eye 1385 highlighted the difficulties facing the Welsh assembly and Scottish parliament over BPS, part of the latest reforms to the common agricultural policy, but suggested its introduction in England appeared to be ‘running more smoothly’. Since then, however, the Rural Payments Agency has returned to form: a definition of Whitehall arrogance, IT incompetence, spending extravagance and civil service hubris…”
medicine balls
With M.D.: "Which party would do least damage to the NHS? The coalition has increased NHS funding by 0.9 percent a year in the past five years, when the previous average increase was 4 percent a year. Unsurprisingly, given the cuts in social care, many services are now hideously overstretched. In England, 3m people are now waiting to see a specialist, with 250,000 more patients needing treatment who are not on the official waiting list. But had Labour won in 2010, it seems unlikely it would have been able to fund the NHS any more generously…”
signal failures
With Dr B Ching: "Whatever pre-election promises the politicians make, a cabal of Sir Humphreys seems bent on keeping public transport in the hands of privately run providers…. Mandarins at the Department for Transport commissioned KPMG to report on the implications of re-regulating buses outside London - as if the subject hadn’t already been investigated exhaustively in the 15 years since these powers were mooted. KPMG, whose clients include FirstGroup, will report in June. This is too soon for a conclusive assessment, so mandarins will be able to drop the report on rookie transport ministers’ desks, saying more research is needed before changes are made…”
eye tv
With Remote Controller: "Ninja Warrior UK is an anglicised franchise of the game-show Sasuke, which has been running in Japan since 1997. Competitors race against the clock on a circuit that resembles the Grand National course given a makeover by a bouncy castle manufacturer… The aim is to make you think of It’s a Knockout, but not of Stuart Hall rotting in jail, although, if they really want to punish the bastard they should make him watch this series to the end…
[reviews of Ninja Warrior UK and Play to the Whistle (both ITV)].”
keeping the lights on
With Old Sparky: "Trouble is mounting for French electricity giant EDF, would-be developer of four new UK nuclear power plants. As predicted in Eye 1385, the coalition thought better of rushing through the paperwork needed for EDF to cash in a government offer of 35-year electricity contracts at guaranteed, ultra-high prices in order to get the first project committed before the election. Construction work has thus been frozen, and it will be hard to persuade any incoming government to revive those costly deals…”
nooks and corners
With Piloti: "A couple of years ago Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson announced: ‘Lime Street has been an area which was forgotten for far too long. I am committed to transforming this into the gateway our world-class city deserves, as it’s one of the first things visitors to our city see when they step off the train.’ So, as part of the city’s Strategic Investment Framework, Regeneration Liverpool and Neptune Developments propose to redevelop the area with student accommodation and an hotel. This means that almost every building between the Crown Hotel and The Vines is to be demolished…”
music and musicians
With Lunchtime O’Boulez: "Three years ago, Glyndebourne caused upset erecting a 330ft-high wind turbine that towers over the otherwise unspoiled Sussex Downs and bothers people in the village of Ringmer who fought hard to stop it. As reported by O’Boulez, Glyndebourne dismissed their views in characteristically patrician manner, insisting the turbine was sound ecology, and managed to get itself a 25-year operating licence on the understanding it would be efficient…”
books and bookmen
With Bookworm: "For Faber & Faber, the ‘train drain’ phenomenon is becoming embarrassing. The highbrow publisher first experienced it soon after launching its creative writing coaching arm, the Faber Academy; one of the earliest students, an NHS worker called SJ Watson, was signed up by the agent who gave a talk at the end of his course and then discourteously did a deal for his debut novel with Transworld… Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep was a bestseller in the UK and US, translated into 40 languages, and became a film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. A year or so later, it happened again (same agent, same poaching publisher)…”
in the city
With Slicker: "It was presumably no coincidence that Lord Ashcroft announced on 31 March – days before the start of the new tax year – that he was no longer going to take his seat in the House of Lords. It was a coincidence, however, that a week later Labour announced its decision to restrict or remove ‘non-dom’ status from those who stay but pay no UK tax on their overseas wealth. Ashcroft gave up his non-dom status back in 2010 after the Labour government changed the rules for peers who wanted to sit in the Lords. That Ashcroft announcement also came just before the start of a new tax year. Now the Tory peer will presumably be free to either reclaim a non-UK domicile of choice, having seemingly returned to his domicile of origin (a difficult switch to make, given HMRC policy and rules), or at least once again become ‘non-resident’ for UK tax and so spend much more time with his money back in Belize or the Turks & Caicos Islands…”
Letter from Havana
From Our Own Correspondent: "
It had been so long since we’d seen our glorious leader we assumed he’d disappeared in a puff of cigar smoke to rejoin Che Guevara and all his fallen co-revolutionaries. So imagine our delight when we saw photos of the Bearded One perched in the back of a van somewhere in Havana last week – or so our state media have led us believe – clasping the hands of star-struck visitors from Venezuela. This was Fidel in best Ali-G pose: a shiny Adidas tracksuit and black cap, gesticulating and smiling at his well-wishers. It was as if he had never been away, and he even had time to pontificate on the magical qualities of the moringa plant he grows in his back garden…”
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Private Eye Issue 1390
private eye Only In The Magazine

US Invades Sussex: ‘It’s Not the Oil’, Claims President… Labour’s new threat to destroy Britain loses them election, says Daily Blackmail… ‘How I Fell in Love with Wallace,’ by Wendolene… The Joy of Economics: Ed Milband’s Guide to Labour Love-making… Businessmen Support Tories – Shock New Letter to the Torygraph… George Galloway: Me and My Spoon… Diary from the Office of Tony Blair, as told to Craig Brown

And also...

- Stink tanks: Michael Gove and Sajid Javid address a secret right-wing beano in the US
- That’s rich: BBC gives £15,000 to memorial service for multi-millionaire David Frost
- Sex, lies & ferrets: News of the World habits live on at the Sun on Sunday
For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.
Next issue on sale: 28th April 2015.

Private Eye Issue 1389
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