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Adam Johnson death: ‘Risk of future deaths’ unless ice hockey neck guards become mandatory, says coroner | UK News

The coroner investigating the death of Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson has said neck guards should be mandatory.

Sheffield’s senior coroner Tanyka Rawden opened the inquest into the death of Mr Johnson on Friday after he was hit in the neck by the skate of a member of the opposing Sheffield Steelers team at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.

Her report, addressed to Ice Hockey UK and the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA), says: “During the course of the investigation my inquiries revealed matters giving rise to concern.

“In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.”

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Vigil held for hockey star Adam Johnson

Ms Rawden outlined the “matters of concern” as: “The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) recommends that neck guards or protectors are worn, but there is no requirement for ice hockey players over the age of 18 to wear equipment designed to protect the neck.

“In due course the inquest will consider whether the use of a neck guard or protector could have prevented Mr Johnson’s death.

“At this stage in my investigation however, I am sufficiently concerned that deaths may occur in the future if neck guards or protectors are not worn.”

The death of the 29-year-old American shocked the hockey world, especially because the incident happened in front of 8,000 fans, including many children.

According to the Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) Report: “During the game Mr Johnson sustained an incised wound to the neck caused by the skate of another player.

“He was taken by ambulance to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where he died as a result of his injury.”

The report requires the governing body to respond within 56 days and adds: “Your response must contain details of action taken or proposed to be taken, setting out the timetable for action.

“Otherwise, you must explain why no action is proposed.”

Read more:
Family describe watching moment Johnson was fatally injured
Girlfriend pays tribute to ice hockey player

Teammate hits out at ‘terrible’ abuse of opposition player

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Ice hockey player dies during game

Elite Ice Hockey League will not make neck guards mandatory

It is highly unusual for a coroner to issue a PFD report so early in an inquest. They are usually produced after a full inquest is concluded and Ms Rawden made it clear on Friday the hearing will not take place for many months.

South Yorkshire Police are also continuing to investigate the incident.

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‘He was such a kind soul’

The Elite Ice Hockey League has said it will not make the use of neck guards mandatory but will “strongly encourage” players and officials to wear them following the tragedy.

Last week, the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) said neck guards will become mandatory from 2024, but the Elite League is not under its control.

Ice hockey fans paid tribute to Mr Johnson at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, with many supporters in tears as they signed books of condolence.

The UK is floundering and has a problem | Adam Boulton | Politics News

Boris Johnson’s term as prime minister tested the British state to destruction. 

In the end, his ill-considered, negligent and self-deceiving style of leadership destroyed his political career. He took the public’s confidence in those who govern us down with him. No cog in the machinery of power – prime minister, cabinet, civil service, special advisers, MPs, independent experts – is emerging with their reputation intact from the hearings at the COVID inquiry.

Those who were in the engine room of No 10 damned themselves with their own mouths and texting fingers as they gave evidence to protect their own backs and plunge knives into their former colleagues.

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Many of the problems were down to the leading personalities involved – Johnson, who was generally likened by his staff to a broken supermarket trolley, veering off in all directions – and his closest adviser Dominic Cummings, who admitted to the inquiry that he should never have been taken into No 10. Their extreme behaviour exposed a system in which the wrong people, arrived at the wrong decisions, taken in the wrong way.

But there is a growing sense of foreboding that the faults in the system do not depend on the behaviour of a bunch of miscreants. When pulled by whoever may be in Downing Street, the levers of power are not propelling the nation in the right direction – if they work at all.

We all know how the UK’s unwritten constitution is supposed to work. Voters choose a government at general elections by giving a party or coalition of parties a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. The ruling party chooses who is prime minister by selecting their leader – as we know from recent turmoil, they can also depose them.

Once installed, the prime minister has considerable executive power to take decisions without automatically referring them to parliament. Some constitutionalists reckon that the British PM is more powerful than an American president. The prime minister appoints the cabinet, and they preside over departments overseeing all aspects of national life, from the NHS and schools to foreign policy and the nation’s finances.

In the UK, the government is assisted and advised by two groups of officials: an impartial civil service, charged with implementing government policy, headed by the cabinet secretary, and a cadre of politically committed special advisers.

Read more:
The key moments from the COVID inquiry this week
No 10 had ‘unbelievably bullish’ approach to pandemic

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Cummings says PM was known as a ‘trolley’

What the inquiry has uncovered

The evidence to the inquiry shows that this web of checks and balances around prime ministers, designed to deliver effective and decent government, comprehensively failed in the case of Boris Johnson. Many would say it also failed under Theresa May and Liz Truss.

The UK is floundering and has a problem.

None of this will come as a surprise to those who watched the television dramas and documentaries about the Johnson government during COVID, including This England on Sky, State Of Chaos on BBC and Partygate on Channel 4.

The full ugly incompetence of those responding to the arrival of COVID in the UK is now being put on the record. Former deputy cabinet secretary Helen McNamara, who cut perhaps the most sympathetic and apologetic figure in the witness box, complained of the toxic, “violent and misogynistic” working atmosphere at the height of the pandemic. She blamed Johnson’s closest aide Dominic Cummings but shared his diagnosis that the “government was dysfunctional”.

Both she and Cummings were among those in government who broke the regulations they were imposing on the country. McNamara admitted “it’s hard to pick a day when we did not break the lockdown rules”.

There was general agreement in the testimony that then health secretary Matt Hancock repeatedly lied about what his department had and had not done. Cummings viewed ministers as “useless f***pigs, morons and c***s”. The Cabinet Office, designed to coordinate government activity around the prime minister, was “terrifyingly s***”, in his view. The cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill was “out to lunch” but his Cummings-backed replacement Simon Case was soon texting about “being at the end of my tether” with the prime minister and that “we look like a terrible joke”.

Cummings despised the usual forums of decision-taking such as cabinet and COBRA emergency meetings, in part because of “leaks” from them, but he proved incapable of organising Downing Street effectively himself, not least because of his bullying unpleasantness to many colleagues.

Alastair Campbell in his office in Downing Street after announcing his resignation as Director of Communications to Prime Minister Tony Blair, in London. Blair's top aide announced his resignation on Friday in a shock decision that comes amid the worst crisis of the British premier's six-year rule.
Alastair Campbell was a powerful figure in Tony Blair’s Downing Street

How Number 10 arrived here

The Johnson/Cummings meltdown is not the only time when there has been concern about the workings of our government. Complaints about “presidential” prime ministers date back to the days of Margaret Thatcher and have grown louder since another long-lasting premiership, that of Tony Blair.

Politically appointed advisers came into prominence under Blair. They became public figures in their own right, overshadowing civil servants. Thatcher’s press secretary, Bernard Ingham, did not attend cabinet meetings. He waited to be briefed on cabinet meetings by the cabinet secretary before speaking to reporters.

Blair’s spokesman Alastair Campbell sat in at cabinet – along with numerous other special advisers. Campbell made no bones about speaking on behalf of the prime minister directly and about telling cabinet ministers what to do. He also took political control of the information flow about government activity, all but gagging civil service information officers.

Blair also appointed a “chief of staff”, Jonathan Powell, who took over some of the functions driving the government from the cabinet secretary. Critics of the changes argue that Blair weakened cabinet secretaries went native, seeing themselves as Blair’s personal servants rather than the imposing impartial advisers typified by Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister.

The Blair model worked for Blair. His formidable team of political appointees were loyal only to the prime minister and less accountable than either elected politicians or civil servants. He and his ministers remained directly accountable, through frequent appearances on the media, and in parliament. The trouble has come from the admirers and imitators who came after the Blair government.

For ambitious SpAds, Sir Humphrey was replaced as a role model by the foul-mouthed and bullying Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It, as shown in the slouchy, sweary, insolent and intimidating informality of Cummings and his text messages.

Johnson’s Downing Street got Tucker, the negative caricature, shorn of the original Campbell’s intelligence, political principle and dedication to his boss.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Will chaos of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street be repeated

Can we stop it happening again?

Subsequent prime ministers all failed to recruit teams of personal advisers to match the quality of Blair’s so-called “sofa government” while they still had to fall back on the disempowered civil service which he left behind.

Influential think tank The Institute for Government has set up a commission to look into “why No 10, the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury do not always work as well as they should and what could be done to radically improve the centre of UK government”.

Its 18 commissioners are drawn from “the great and good” of politics, Whitehall, academia, journalism and the media. They are due to report back next February. Whether anyone in power, or likely to get it, takes any notice of their recommendations is another matter.

The main lesson being taken away from the COVID hearings seems to be how to cover up better in future by using the automatic delete function on WhatsApp or losing an incriminating phone altogether.

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The truth is that the current heights of unaccountability are convenient for ministers, if not the country. They are their own judge and jury on ethical behaviour and have uprooted the customary guardrails around acceptable conduct in government. Rishi Sunak is the sole arbiter of whether the ministerial code has been breached and has the power, for instance, to abandon a major infrastructure scheme such as HS2, approved by parliament, on a party conference whim.

The COVID inquiry is doing the public the favour of exposing the catastrophic depths of dysfunction to which the British government descended. As yet, there is nothing in place to stop it happening again.

Adam Boulton: Double by-election defeat leaves Tories asking is this a re-run of 1992 or 1997? | Politics News

Voters in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire have just given a resounding answer to the question obsessing Westminster watchers all year:

“Does the run-in to the next general election feel more like the approach to the 1992 or the 1997 election?”.

This is really the political nerds’ version of the basic question of interest to most of us:

“Is there going to be a change of government?” or, more bluntly still, “Are the Conservatives going to lose?”.

More on the 1992 false dawn for Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party later in this article.

Politics live: Leaked WhatsApp messages reveal Tory dismay

First look at the developing similarities in the parliamentary by-election records from 2019 to the present day and 1992-1997, when John Major’s full term ended with the Labour landslide led by Tony Blair.

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Is Starmer on the path to Downing Street?

A lot of the comparisons are statistical. There is also a mirror image similarity in that both eras witnessed a collapse in both the morale and the morals of the ruling Conservative Party.

Among other issues, this can be seen in the quality of the candidates they are putting forward today.

It is of course the luck of the draw which seats fall vacant between elections.

But as the number of by-elections mounts over a typical four or five-year parliamentary term, a comparable list typically emerges.

Ghosts of elections passed

For example, by a quirk of fate, the last by-election in the Tamworth constituency was in December 1995.

Labour captured South-East Staffordshire, as it was then named, with a swing from the Conservatives of 22.1%.

On Thursday night Labour gained Tamworth with a record swing of 23.9%.

Tamworth and Mid Beds were the eighteenth and nineteenth by-elections this parliament. Of those 10 seats changed hands between parties.

The Conservatives lost eight of them, four to Labour and four to the Liberal Democrats.

Labour also won Rutherglen and Hamilton from the SNP earlier this month and the Conservatives took the “classic red wall” constituency of Hartlepool off Labour at the height of Boris Johnson’s premiership in early 2021.

A lot has changed since then.

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Labour ‘can see the summit’ after by-election wins

There were seventeen by-elections in Great Britain in the 1992-1997 parliament, eight won by another party.

The Conservatives lost all of these, four to the Liberal Democrats, three to Labour, including SE Staffs, and one, Perth and Kinross, to the SNP.

Labour, the main opposition party, seems to be doing better in this cycle than it did a generation ago, in spite of the popularity of the leader then, Tony Blair, far exceeding the ratings of Sir Keir Starmer today.

Back then the Liberal Democrats won more seats than Labour. This time they are behind 5-4, having lost their challenge to Labour in the three-way Mid Beds battlefield, which they claimed was ideal Lib Dem by-election territory.

The Lib Dems were also down to 1.6% in Tamworth, losing their deposit. In the aftermath on Friday morning Daisy Cooper, the ambitious Lib Dem deputy leader, claimed that her party had served Labour by winning over some Conservative voters.

Labour campaigners don’t see it that way.

Read more:
Tory party chair won’t resign despite by-election losses
Sunak puts by-election disasters down to mid-term blues
Starmer cannot afford to be ‘boring’

In the ’92 parliament, four seats changed hands on swings of 20% or more – two Lib Dem and two Labour.

Labour have clocked up three victories on that scale since July.

The by-election results last week suggest that the voters are worried about the cost of living crisis and poor standards of government.

Most seem to have put Brexit to one side. Tamworth, like most of the Midlands, voted heavily to leave the EU.

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‘Looking at exceptional swings’

The Conservatives will also be worried that the Reform Party drained off 3.7% of the votes in Tamworth and 5.4% in Mid Beds.

In each case Reform’s total was bigger than Labour’s new majority.

One option for the Tories would be to try to woo them by shifting to the right.

Unlike the run-up to ’97, when the SNP was stirring, Labour’s support appears to be recovering in Scotland.

This is one of the three reasons why Peter Kellner, the habitually cautious political analyst and founder of YouGov, now anticipates a Labour majority government.

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Labour wins Tamworth: ‘It’s time for change’

His other pointers are Rishi Sunak’s declining ratings and evidence of anti-Tory tactical voting.

Kellner also concludes that Keir Starmer has overcome the Labour “fear factor”.

YouGov’s data shows that “he has persuaded seven million Tories (out of the 14 million last time) that they have nothing to fear from a Labour government”.

Back to basics – back again?

This is very different from the run-up to 1992, when Conservatives and their allies in the media successfully targeted Labour leader Neil Kinnock and the tax rises proposed in the shadow budget.

After taking over from Margaret Thatcher, John Major won the 1992 election. A few months later on Black Wednesday, 16 September 1982, his government’s economic credibility collapsed.

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Defeated Tory candidate walks out

The Conservatives’ popularity plunged and never recovered. People had been threatened with dramatic increases in the cost of their mortgages.

Meanwhile senior Tories were caught up in a succession of so-called “sleaze’ allegations, some more serious than others, of sexual or financial impropriety.

Following an ill-judged party conference speech by Prime Minister Major theses came to be known under the headline “back to basics”.

Ministers and senior MPs implicated in scandals included David Mellor, Michael Mates, Tim Yeo, Alan Duncan, Michael Brown, Neil Hamilton and Jonathan Aitken.

Since Boris Johnson won his “stonking” general election victory in 2019, the public has been hit by two shocks – one sleazy and one economic.

Both resulted in sustained drops in the Conservative Party’s poll ratings.

Partygate, the revelations of routine flouting of COVID restrictions by Boris Johnson and his staff contributed to his downfall.

Policies introduced by his short-lived successor Liz Truss did lasting damage to the UK economy and household budgets.

Truss was feted at this year’s Conservative Party conference.

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Unsuitable candidates

More broadly the Conservatives seem unwilling to respect the common decencies of behaviour, rightly demanded of politicians.

Both the recent by-elections resulted from the personal misconduct of the departing MP: allegations of groping men by Chris Pincher, and Nadine Dorries’ strop over not getting a peerage.

The Tory Party then failed to get a grip on the two candidates who replaced them.

Festus Akimbusoye would have had to resign as local Police and Crime Commissioner if he had won.

To avoid another by-election, the Tories rejected a neighbouring MP, Eddie Hughes, who had already been chosen to fight Tamworth under new boundaries.

His replacement Andrew Cooper, a local councillor and former soldier, was found to have said “f*** off” on social media to benefit claimants with phone or TV subscriptions.

Cooper broke with tradition at the count declaration by leaving the stage before the candidates made their traditional speeches of thanks.

The Conservative strategy in both campaigns was to keep their candidates under wraps and avoid exposing them to the media.

The party is now claiming that the low turnout by voters, which is normal at by-elections, suggests there are masses of Conservative voters who sat at home but will turn out at a general election.

We shall see.

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PM: ‘I’m hungry for change’

Labour held the three seats it won in by-elections before 1997 until at least 2010.

In contrast the Conservatives won back all seven by-election constituencies they had lost at the subsequent 1992 general election.

There are currently around 16 MPs sitting as independents having lost their party whip.

Eight of them were Labour, including Nick Brown, Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott.

Kier Starmer, the former public prosecutor, has adopted a zero-tolerance stance. If they are not reinstated they will not be able to stand as Labour candidates at the next election.

Standards of behaviour expected of MPs are changing.

Some of the women members standing down have complained of their treatment while in parliament.

Five of the eight successful candidates who snatched by-election victories during this parliament were women.

Meanwhile the proportion of women selected to fight seats for the Conservatives in England is down to less than one in four.

Another by-election?

There is another potential by-election in the offing.

A recall petition will be triggered in Wellingborough if MPs vote to uphold the six-week suspension of Conservative MP Peter Bone recommended by parliament’s Independent Expert Panel for bullying and sexual misconduct.

The outspoken Brexiteer and Johnson-era minister held the Northamptonshire constituency with an 18,540 majority in 2019.

The voting profile is similar to Tamworth’s. It would take a swing of 17.9% for Labour to take it.

This parliament could yet get worse than 1992-1997 for the Conservatives.

Adam Provan: Former Metropolitan Police officer jailed for 16 years for raping woman and girl | UK News

Former Metropolitan Police officer Adam Provan has been jailed for 16 years – with another eight years on extended licence for multiple rapes against a teenage girl and a female police officer.

The 44-year-old was convicted in June of six counts of rape of a fellow police officer between 2003 and 2005.

He was also found guilty of two counts of rape of a 16-year-old girl, who he met on a blind date after lying about his age in 2010.

Judge Noel Lucas said he was troubled by the way the Met handled the female police officer’s initial complaints about Provan’s behaviour in 2005.

He said those who dealt with the complaints at the Met “were more concerned with looking after one of their own than taking her seriously” – and had an investigation been taken forward, the teenage victim may have been spared.

Sentencing Provan at Wood Green Crown Court, the judge said he displayed a “cold-blooded entitlement to sex” then immediately behaved as if everything was “completely normal”.

He concluded that the “persistence and seriousness” of Provan’s offending was clear, adding: “By your actions, you brought disgrace on the police force.”

Read more:
‘Provan had ‘fascination bordering on obsessive’ with young women

Provan was a serving officer in the Met Police East Area Command Unit at the time of the offences.

He was jailed for nine years in 2018 after being convicted of raping the 16-year-old victim following a retrial – and served three years and three months in prison before a successfully appeal.

When his case was sent for a third trial in May, six new counts of rape were added – relating to earlier offences against the serving Metropolitan Police officer.

On the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing, it was revealed that Provan had 751 female contacts in his mobile.

Prosecutor Anthony Metzer KC said details from the phone “strongly suggested” there was sexual activity with the women, many of whom were young.

Mr Metzer said Provan used his position to gain the trust of young women and had “aspects of a Jekyll And Hyde character”.

He added that Provan had an “extended history of allegations” of sexual misconduct dating back to the 1990s.

Speaking at the court from behind a screen, the teenage victim, who is now in her 20s, said: “The day I met Adam Provan changed my life forever.

“No prison sentence will take away the harm Adam Provan has caused me. No amount of justice will make me forget the date from hell.

“Even though I tried my best to block it out I will never forget how scared I was when the assault took place, and 13 years later reliving my worst nightmare.”

Being told that Provan really was a police officer, as he had claimed to be, was “sickening”, she said.

The other victim, still a serving officer, said she had “lived in constant fear” that Provan would kill her, and felt he saw himself as “untouchable”.

She told the court that she also felt the police had not dealt with Provan and had failed to protect her.

Adam Boulton: Westminster’s ‘nepo babies’ are here to stay – whether we like it or not | Politics News

“It’s not who you are but who you know” is a saying often used to explain why those with family connections to successful people seem to have a head start doing well in the next generation.

In the US this phenomenon has led Gen Z to coin a new tag “nepo babies” as they list those in showbusiness deemed to have been given a big helping hand by family connections.

Regardless of the talent they have displayed in their own work, the inference is that they got there in part because of nepotism – those in positions of power and influence favouring their relatives, literally from the Greek Nepos, nephew.

It will always be noted that the actor Kate Hudson and film director Sophia Coppola, say, are the children, respectively, of the actor Goldie Hawn and the film director Francis Ford Coppola.

With emotions ranging from contempt and jealousy to admiration and awe, social media has extended the list of nepo babies to sport and politics.

Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn at the premiere of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Pic: AP)
Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn at the premiere of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Pic: AP)

“In tennis the ‘nepo babies’ are everywhere” was the headline of an article in the New York Times this week. Nobody can deny that numerous members of the Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bush clans have made it to high office.

The phenomenon or, as many see it, the problem of nepotism extends to British politics.

Since 2010 the House of Commons library has been keeping a list of MPs related to other current or former members.

In the current parliament, elected in 2019, 49 MPs are listed. That amounts to one MP in 13, 7.5% of the total membership of 650.

It does not count those who may have close relatives in the House of Lords, or first cousins in either house.

Of those currently in the Commons related by blood to MPs past and present there are 17 grandchildren, great-grandchildren nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces; 13 sons; 4 daughters; 3 sisters; 2 brothers; and one uncle. Currently there are also seven wives and five husbands, though that is a matter of choice rather than genetics.

Some of these have multiple connections. The inclination to dynasticism is not confined to any party. The former Labour cabinet minister Hilary Benn has five links, including to his father Tony Benn, the staunch Republican, a grandfather, two great-grandfathers and a brother who has revived the family title, Viscount Stansgate, in the House of Lords.

Intricate nexus of family connections

The best-connected Conservative is the MP for the Cotswolds Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown who has forebears in the Commons sharing the same surname going back four generations.

The most intricate nexus of family connections centres on John Cryer, currently chair of the parliamentary Labour Party. He is the son of two Labour MPs – Bob and Ann Cryer – married to another one, Ellie Reeves, who in turn is the sister of the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Three Conservative ministers – Victoria Prentis, Victoria Atkins and Andrew Mitchell – are the children of former Tory Ministers. “Red Princes” on the Labour side include frontbencher Stephen Kinnock, son of former leader Neil and Mr Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, son of Doug, now Lord, Hoyle.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Sir Lindsay Hoyle

The Father of the House, the longest serving MP, Sir Peter Bottomley is married to a former Tory MP, Virginia, and the uncle of a Labour one, Kitty Ussher. Sir Patrick Jenkin, the chair of the Liaison Committee, is the son of Patrick, a former cabinet minister now in the Lords, and married to another peer, Anne, who has had a leading role in selecting Conservative parliamentary candidates.

The political connections game is not limited to Labour and the Conservatives. Great Liberal families include the Asquiths, Bonham-Carters and Grimonds, some of whom are still active in the Lords.

For the DUP Ian Paisley Junior bears the name of his father, a former MP, MLA, MEP and husband of a peer. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is married to Peter Murrell CEO of the SNP.

Social media has exposed people’s backgrounds and made it increasingly likely that they will be pigeon-holed for them.

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‘Magic circles’ of influence

Those who feel excluded from “magic circles” of influence are often resentful, especially when there is rivalry between circles – sometimes to comic effect.

The broadcaster Amol Rajan complained publicly about too many presenters at the BBC speaking with received-pronunciation accents, often picked up at private schools.

His Today programme colleague Justin Webb, who went to private school, countered that he thought there were too many people at the BBC with Oxbridge backgrounds. Rajan is a Cambridge graduate, Webb went to the LSE.

Charges of nepotism are taken more seriously than such narcissism of small differences. Ian Wooldridge, the author of The Aristocracy Of Talent: How Meritocracy Made The Modern World, argues that “the march of progress can be measured by the abolition of nepotism”.

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of Amol Rajan, who is to replace Jeremy Paxman as the host of University Challenge, the BBC has said. Issue date: Thursday August 18, 2022.
Amol Rajan is a Cambridge graduate

Few would challenge his contention that “it can’t be good for democracy if representative positions are hogged by people who belong to a narrow, privileged caste”.

Yet anyone who becomes an MP must pass successfully thorough democratic selection processes.

First by getting on a party candidates list, then by being selected, and finally by winning an election. The factionalism of politics can mean that it is not always an asset to have well-known antecedents.

For a high-profile position such as an MP, which is heavily dependent on personality, it would be almost impossible to go “CV blind” – unless unnamed candidates were interviewed unseen behind a screen like on the old TV show Blind Date and at some orchestral auditions.

In many walks of life families want to pass a particular occupation or business down the generations. Children may get to know the ropes early. Speaker Hoyle says he first attended a Labour Conference as a babe in arms.

Long successions of nepo babies

In history the hereditary principle has frequently been the basis of social and political organisation. Monarchies, including the British Crown, are long successions of nepo babies, as are the aristocracies which often grow up under their patronage. Even the king-killer Oliver Cromwell made his son his heir as Lord Protector.

In the 18th and 19th Centuries British prime ministers came more often than not from the hereditary House of Lords rather than the elected Commons. Many prominent families also had control in constituencies effectively appointing family members as MPs.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the third Marquess of Salisbury, was the last prime minister to govern from the Lords, finally ending his third term in 1902. The keen meritocrat Ian Woolridge points out that the phrase “Bob’s your uncle” dates from Salisbury’s efforts ensuring that his nephew, Arthur Balfour MP was the next PM.

The Cecil family have rendered political services and held high offices at least since Queen Elizabeth I. The current Lord Salisbury, also named Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, was an MP and then a minister in John Major’s government.

He subsequently brokered the deal with New Labour, which kept seats in the House of Lords for a rump of hereditary peers, while drastically reducing their number. Viscount Cranbourn, the courtesy title by which he was then known, recused himself from standing to be one of the peers remaining in parliament.

It has not been, and nor will be, so easy to remove Westminster’s other nepo babies from their positions of power and influence, assuming that is what Meritocrats would like to do.

TV host Adam Hills holds mock surgery in Matt Hancock’s constituency while MP remains in the jungle | Ents & Arts News

The Last Leg host Adam Hills has held a mock political surgery in Matt Hancock’s constituency – but says people turned up with “genuine issues”.

The Australian TV presenter and comedian visited the town of Mildenhall on Sunday to allow the locals the chance to raise their concerns while the West Suffolk MP continues his controversial appearance on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

Mr Hancock has faced strong criticism for appearing on the reality show and had the Tory whip suspended for joining at a time when Parliament is sitting.

Hills, 52, appeared on Good Morning Britain to speak about the fake public drop-in, which will be shown during Friday’s episode of his Channel 4 comedy talk show The Last Leg.

He said: “I tell you what, everybody turned up with a genuine issue. I was really surprised, I thought people would have comedy issues but no, people wanted better access to public transport, to dentists, to doctors, all that kind of stuff.

“This was the interesting thing, at the end of it, they all said, ‘We just want to be listened to’.

“That was the main thing, they said we just want Matt Hancock to come here and listen to us. It’s like a marriage, you just want the other person to listen to you.”

Hills agreed when co-host Richard Madeley suggested the mood was “more in sorrow than anger”.

'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' TV Show, Series 22, Australia - 12 Nov 2022
Bushtucker Trial - Who Wants To Look Silly On Air: Matt Hancock

12 Nov 2022

“Absolutely,” he said. “People aren’t angry, they just want their MP to turn up and listen to their concerns.”

Read more:
‘I find Hancock slimy and slippery’

He added: “A whole bunch of people said it would just be nice to get a response, we’ve sent emails, we’ve sent letters and when that response is, ‘I’m sorry, I’m eating a kangaroo’s penis in the Australian jungle right now’, that’s kind of not what they’re hoping for.”

Mr Hancock has previously stressed the first thing he will do after leaving the jungle will be to return to Suffolk and hold a surgery with his constituents.