43 DAYS TO GO and even our media’s getting excited. The first debate in the US presidential race hit our screens in the early hours of this morning, so we thought we’d cross the Atlantic this week. Up to 100 million people were expected to watch; if this report in yesterday’s Guardian is anything to go by [those of a nervous disposition should probably skip it], it’ll be no holds barred, but by the time you read this we’ll know who the commentariat have pronounced the winner…


Jonathan Freedman in Saturday’s Guardian couldn’t believe that Trump is still in with a chance. Only one thing to do, Freedman tells Americans, swallow hard and vote Clinton…

The Sunday Herald sent Andrew Purcell to Hazleton in Pennsylvania – key Trump heartland apparently. This was coal mining Democrat country, now going under with crime and drugs. There are Hispanics, but it’s mostly the ‘left behind’ whites, and they’re all for Trump.

Writing from Washington for the Sunday Times, Toby Harnden looked at the preparation of both candidates for this debate – Clinton’s mock debates and extensive reading, Trump’s more casual approach…

As the contents of Nancy and Ronald Reagan’s Bel Air mansion went on sale, David Hawkins in Wednesday’s Reaction found similarities between the Reagan regime and Trump. The legacy and relevance is of a Republican President, with a wealthy and glamourous background, who brought back a sense of optimism to a deflated country with the slogan “Make America Great Again… committed and assured of winning economically, domestically and in foreign affairs …feared by his critics as a maverick to not be trusted with the nuclear button or international alliances… facing a Democratic opponent with huge negatives “

Last week we brought you the Clinton Foundation’s complex arrangements. This week, it’s Trump’s charitable giving – or not, as the case may be. Here’s Rachel Cunliffe in Reaction on Trump’s lies, damned lies and statistics…


According to Hanna Kozlowska in Thursday’s Quartz, Clinton has a trump [sorry] card when it comes to debate – she has lived in a man’s world and learnt to play by those rules, but For Hillary Clinton, many of these memorable moments have not actually been about what she did or said—but about how her male opponents approached her”.  In other words, if Donald loses his cool…

Sean Collins in last week’s Spiked reported Clinton supporters in denial. Rather like Remainers, they had assumed the Presidency already won and are now waking up. Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ reveals a liberal bigotry aimed at ‘white trash’, says Collins.  [And while we’re making that connection, Tom Bailey, also in Spiked is well worth a read on the Leave vote that  invokes the same sense of disbelief and denial]

Here, from The Conversation archive, as a reminder of oratory at its very best:  though it’s over a year ago now, Barak Obama makes his point with his Amazing Grace eulogy.



PRIVATE GRIEF: not much more to say about Labour’s battalion of troubles other than well done Jezza. Lesley Riddoch in yesterday’s Scotsman suggested Kezia – if she survives – should go for a quickie divorce from down south, and then back independence.  Ruth Davidson sneaked into the Labour Women’s Conference and wasn’t impressed – quoting Madeleine Albright in yesterday’s Telegraph -“there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”she has a go at all those anti-May speeches.

WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN: LBC’s Iain Dale published his annual list of the 100 most influential people on the Left. No surprise that at No 1 is the once and future Labour leader Mr Corbyn, and our very own First Minister is runner-up. Angus Robertson sits at no.45 and Kezia Dugdale at 53.

Katy Balls in the Spectator helpfully published a list of names we should become familiar with – “a who’s who of the leader’s hardline apparatchiks. Some, she says, make Jezza look moderate.

TWO LEFT FEET:  If you missed Ed Balls on Strictly, catch up with Euan Ferguson in the Observer. Waltzing to Elvis probably not the best choice, says Ferguson, but “I like Ed, and he danced well actually. Lose the tie next week: live a little, allow the hips to live a little, dear boy”. BTW, Balls is a new entry on Iain Dale’s list [above] at No 41.

GOD’S FLEA IN THE EAR: Walter Ellis in Wednesday’s Reaction asked what lay behind Tony Blair’s Damascene conversion to sainthood. An amusing and rewarding, if sceptical, read.

BLOOD, SWEAT, TOIL, MAYBE NO TEARS: Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald says time for a pragmatic approach; the First Minister needs to get all her independence ducks in a row, but meanwhile will rUK get so fed up with the prospect of Indyref2 that Westminster grants Scotland political autonomy anyway? It happened in 1931 with Canada and Australia. In yesterday’s Telegraph, Former minister Alex Neil agreed – transfer of powers is the way to go.

Elsewhere Ian Jack in the Guardian looked at the great indy paradox – more of us want it, none of us can afford it.

MINE ENEMY’S ENEMY:  Euan McColm in Scotland on Sunday wrote in praise of Gideon George Osborne, who is clearly not going gently into that political dark night. Osborne has been speaking anti-May and pro the ‘closest possible economic and security relationship’ with the EU and is thus, says McColm, a GOOD THING. [Plus, if you can lay hands on a print copy of the Weekend FT (online paywall) there’s the paper’s Dinner With interview – read how GGO is going to pour boiling oil from his Northern Powerhouse…]



NEXT TIME YOU’RE DOWN THE CHIPPY:  think on this. It isn’t just birds that greet the day. Apparently, fish do too. Greta Keenan in last week’s New Scientist explained how Australian researchers have established an early morning fish chorus. There’s a pretty picture, and if you don’t believe it, some audio.

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH:   Tom Phillips in Thursday’s Guardian reported that China has now sent a selection of vines aloft in its latest space lab – cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir. The aim, apparently, is to trigger genetic changes that might make it easier to produce a world beating wine in China’s often harsh climate and terrain.



IT’S THE TECHNOLOGY, STUPID: Janet Godsell of Warwick University looked at the global phenomenon of big knickers. What began with Bridget Jones ended on the backs of rugby union players.

Enjoy.Have a great week.


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