Time to show true grit and take on the Islamic fanatics, Mr. President

If a PR man was to invent the template for a ‘designer’ US President, Barak Hussein Obama would be it – young, educated, slickly televisual, a snappy dresser, head of a model family, ethnically mixed race and a self-made politico.

In 2008 a majority of Americans bought into that vision and his battle anthem, ‘Change’.

Well, they (and the rest of the world) got change, all right – mostly for the worse. And, but for his Republican challenger Mitt Romney being relentlessly smeared as ‘gaffe-prone’ by the liberal media, Obama would be staring down the barrel of defeat in November, consigned to history’s wastebin as the US’s second worst, post-WW2 leader after the serially incompetent Jimmy Carter.

For, like Carter, he shares common flaws, notably a lack of substance and true grit, which no amount of posturing can paper over.

The peanut farmer from Georgia was undone by his monumental cock-up over the Iran Hostages crisis and ham-handed stewardship of the economy; Obama deserves to fall over his grovelling appeasement to Muslim fanaticism and his lack of economic nous.

It’s worthwhile remembering Carter’s dead hand on the helm of the USA and especially how, for 444 days – from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981 – 52 Americans were held hostage by Islamo-fascists in their embassy in Tehran.

With inept efforts at diplomacy floundering on the rock of hard-line Iranian obduracy, Carter was forced to order a rescue attempt. Codenamed Operation Eagle Caw, on April 24, 1980, it failed abysmally, resulting in the deaths of eight US servicemen.

LOST FOR WORDS: Like Carter, Obama’s forign policy is littered with flaws

Interestingly, the hostages were released just minutes after a new, hawkish president called Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

Now, such are the lost lessons of history, we’re witnessing something approaching a reprise of 31 years ago.

A US President, whose first foreign policy act was to rush to Cairo and offer the hand of friendship to the Muslim world – only to have his palm spat on – continues bumbling and stumbling into an Islamic extremists’ trap he’s too blinkered to see.

The case of the inane movie mocking Mohammad (I take it I can still mention the Prophet by name without provoking more maniacal fury?) made by Christian Copts in California was the fuse that lit explosives begging to be detonate across the Islamic East…and Obama’s response: a cringing telly ad, apologising for the controversial video and insisting it was none of his doing.

As with his witless predecessor Carter, Obama cannot get it through his greying head that the fanatics who have hijacked the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ are ratching up the anti-Western ante now that the bit is between their teeth.

As many commentators (including this one) warned, the kids and cosmopolitan middle-classes who led the demos for an end to tyranny with cries for democracy in Egypt and Tunisia have been blindsided by repressive parties, intent on heralding an ‘Islamic Winter’.

Grasping and repugnant as Mubarak was in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, they maintained a cold peace with the West, as did the lunatic Gaddafi in Libya, which – with British and French help, subcontracted by the USA – has now disintegrated into factionalist conflict.

In regard to Syria’s civil war, the Americans can’t tell which way is up. We all know the Assads ran the country as a family fiefdom from 1971. But Washington hasn’t a clue who the ‘rebels’ are or to what extent they’re under Al Qaeda’s influence.

Tack onto all this the repeatedly bellicose rants by the Iranians to annihilate Israel and the Jewish state’s understandable impatience at Obama’s dithering after a decade of Tehran’s lies over its nuclear ambitions – the boss of Iran’s atomic programme, Fereydoun Abbasi, recently admitted he gave International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors false information and you can tell how utterly flawed US foreign policy is.

FLOORMAT FLAG: Islamic fanatics desecrate the Stars & Stripes

What the Obama administration doesn’t get (and Romney does) is that as much as Muslim nations crave US hand-outs, especially weapons, they don’t want any Crusader influence over their masses and they’ll attempt to humiliate the West at the drop of a kaffiyeh.

What they also demand is absolute respect towards their unyielding faith – Islam means ‘submission’ and, by their book, that should extend to infidels like us, too. But with them respect is a one-way street: Christians will continue to be reviled in many Muslim states, women will be denigrated, homosexuals persecuted and daily dollops of vicious, anti-Semitic bile will continue to spew from government-controlled media.

So sometime soon (urgently, I hope) during his predicted second term in office – sadly, I think Obama will shade it over Romney – the 44th President must find some balls, stop being the pushover Islamists view him as and tell them a few hard facts about civilised Western values. Because we’ve got plenty to be proud of and he shouldn’t mince his words.

Our ancestors fought long and hard for liberty and the rights we enjoy – freedom of speech, a free Press, a division between church and state, an end to absolute monarchy, just laws that don’t discriminate, an independent judiciary, fair elections, respect for minorities, et al – and it’s time all religious fanatics learned we are not prepared to compromise our principles.

They should also understand we prefer being here, not in the hereafter.

Obama might not like the responsibility of being the world’s most powerful man and has said almost as much. But, if he didn’t want that obligation, he shouldn’t be standing again for office.

He’s stuck with it and we’re likely to be stuck with him for a further four years.

Taking out Osama Bin Laden – said to be at the instigation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his Joint Chiefs of Staff – wasn’t sufficient evidence for Obama to convince the West he’s prepared to get his manicured fingers dirty.

So I urge Mr. President to stop vacillating, concentrate less on reducing his golf handicap and recognise the stark truth: so far as the hard-liners in the Muslim world are concerned, they think he’s a weakling and their attitude is not going to change, only harden.

Meanwhile, the lands of the free demand and deserve a US leader who is brave enough to stand up to them and any likeminded bullies.

Honestly, you can trust me – I’m a journalist

Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me, Kenneth Williams famously shrieked in the role of Julius Caesar, as he got the point – literally and figuratively – in the 1964 romp, Carry On Cleo.

Yet I can imagine how the real Roman emperor must have felt, because it’s that time of year when an opinion poll rears its ugly head, naming and shaming the professionals people most love to hate. And, for reasons I’ve never fully comprehended, we journalists always make the top 10.

This year’s annual bashing fest was even worse than normal. It saw us come joint-first (or worst, if you prefer) alongside politicians, who, I fully agree, warrant universal damnation for all the promises they break, U-turns they make and weaselly words they utter.

But just look at the list of ogres in the public conscious, some quite understandably cited:

Joint 1st: Politicos and newsmen – disapproval rating 93%.

Joint 3rd: Bankers and estate agents – disapproval rating 89% (who’d have guess they were even that popular!).

5th: Builders – disapproval rating 81% (obviously too many cowboys, including the Indians).

6th: Civil servants – disapproval rating 75% (wouldn’t you like to see them choke on their own red tape).

7th: Accountants – disapproval rating 71% (that doesn’t add up to me…except, let’s face it, bean-counters are usually boring).

8th: Lawyers – disapproval rating 65% (surely a gross under-estimation; not for nothing is the collective term for my learned friends a ‘leech of lawyers’).

9th: Engineers – disapproval rating 44% (you can’t be serious…these people are actually useful!).

10th: Teachers – disapproval rating 31% (treble that if you went to my school).

So who could compile so errant a poll? Were the pollsters standing outside bars late on a Saturday night, canvassing opinions – or prompting responses – from those staggering by?

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Journos publish them, only to be damned

And why no mention of scalpers who really take Joe and Joanna Public to the cleaners (along with lawyers, of course)? So here are a few that would make my hit list: glib used-car salesmen, double-glazing touts, taxi drivers with a penchant for long detours, parking-metre jobsworths, snotty shop assistants who ignore you, charity ‘chuggers’ who badger you into submission in the street…

Only the limitations of space prohibit me from adding to those more worthy of approbation than we humble scribes of the Fourth Estate, whose job it is inform the masses and expose injustice and corruption wherever it lurks.

All right, okay. We rightly deserved a bad Press over the phone-hacking scandal, culpability for which, incidentally, the plods still have to prove. And, more recently, there’s been the farrago over the unveiling of Duchess Kate’s boobs – but that was the handiwork of a French snapper (what can you expect from a bunch who’d probably eat their grannies if the old dears were covered in sauce béarnaise?)

In general, however, I contend we make a pretty fair fist of informing, amusing and educating our readerships, if only in the Free World, where some fanatic wielding a blue pencil and an AK47 isn’t glaring over our shoulder, dictating what we write.

For instance, would you have known about tricky Dicky Nixon’s Watergate cover-up, arms being smuggled to Iran, rampant corruption in the corridors of power – not forgetting Silvio Berlasconi’s ‘bunga-bunga’ orgies – the British MPs expenses fiddle or FIFA soccer chiefs on the take if it hadn’t been for inquiring journos on the cases?

Not a week goes by without some injustice, scandal or nefarious activity being outed by the media. And, if it wasn’t for the papers or TV, where would courageous whistleblowers turn if they knew the authorities would probably bang them up in jail and censor or suppress the embarrassing information they possess?

Sure, we don’t getting everything right – who does! – and we can pay for our mistakes with punitive libel damages when we’re wrong.

But, unlike much of the bilge swilling around the internet and penned by untrained hands, when you buy a legitimate newspaper – or log onto its online edition – you’re guaranteed some high degree of accurate reporting.

So remember, you can trust me…I’m a journalist (and rest assured your secrets will only be shared with my several million readers).

The mystery behind the movie that set the Muslim world aflame – and its impact on the US election

There’s a fog of ambiguity growing ever thicker behind the murders of Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three diplomatic colleagues when their consulate in Benghazi was overrun and destroyed three days ago.

The fuse that ignited the attack – and sparked the all-too-predictable, viciously anti-Western mayhem across much of the Muslim world, which will no doubt continue unfettered for some time – was a tacky, tasteless film, entitled ‘The Innocence of Islam’, mocking the prophet Muhammad.

Originally, it was touted as being the handiwork of an ‘Israeli-American’ called ‘Sam Bacile’ (imbecile more like it) until the Associated Press  tracked him down to southern California and revealed his likely true identity – Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted fraudster.

The man appears to be a 55-year-old Egyptian Coptic Christian rather than an American-Israeli, as wrongly claimed in earlier reports. And, according to The Atlantic magazine, a ‘consultant’ working on the project confirmed Bacile was a pseudonym and not an Israeli.

If this proves correct, the devious motives of Nakoula/’Bacile’ could be interpreted as those of a dangerous maverick agent provocateur, seeking to discredit one religion and lay blame on another.

A 14-minute trailer of the movie – reminscent of the controversial cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in 2006 – is reported to have been posted on YouTube in June. Yet it has taken two months for incandescent rage to be whipped up and the shoddy, shamateurish film’s provenance to be investigated.

One fact is telling about the date of the storming of the US legation in Libya, the killings of Ambassador Stevens and subsequent outrage that exploded across Muslim lands: it happened on 9/11 and the 11th anniversary of the mass slaughter in 2001 of over 3,000 innocent civilians on American soil.

DESTRUCTION DERBY: Rioters attacking the American embassy in Yemen

Small wonder then that intelligence sources believe the seminal date is no coincidence. And the angry, spontaneous protests, they say, were no such thing, but carefully pre-orchestrated demos, inspired by Islamo-fascist extremists to celebrate the anniversary of the dastardly attacks, hailed by many in the East as a victory over the West.

The response to the blasphemous movie also calls into doubt President Obama’s policy of appeasement towards the Muslim world at a crucial moment when he bids for re-election.

Many Americans – Democrats as well as Republicans and the vacillating undecided – aren’t convinced the words of rapprochement of the Obama administration are worth the paper they’re written on and wonder whether their first black leader is a reincarnation of Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst President elected since World War Two.

Carter’s one-term presidency was torpedoed by his dithering over the 1979-1981 Iran hostages scandal, how to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and his mismanagement of the economy, when the country was suffering from ‘stagflation’, in which inflation was high, growth low and unemployment soaring (sound familiar?).

Like Carter, despite his slick rhetoric, Obama displays all the hallmarks of being too soft on America’s foes and failing to master a flagging economy.

Although still marginally ahead of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in the polls – and lucky he’s not facing as formidable a challenger as Ronald Reagan was for the inept Carter – seismic incidents, like the slaughter of US diplomats abroad and sustained attacks against American missions in the tinderbox of the Middle East, could blow him off course.

Obama has two months to right the ship of state, but as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once tellingly observed, ‘A week is a long time in politics.’

How to curb the carnage of our kids coming home from holiday in coffins…

Magaluf – Megamuff or Shagaluf in the vernacular of Britain’s rutting youth, for whom a visit is almost a teenage rite of passage – is this island’s  partying capital.

It boasts a long strand of sublime beach, gently-lapping waters and is world famous – or infamous, depending on your viewpoint – for its late, late scene, where sex, booze and drugs are in plentiful supply.

I know the place well; too well.

Punta Balena (a.k.a. ‘The Hill’) is the resort’s magnet for 18-to-25s on heat in the heat. Probably a half-kilometre long, the incline is choked with cheap bars, discos spilling out ear-splitting noise, tacky eateries and supermarkets crammed to the gunwales with budget hooch.

Garish, flashing lights make 4 a.m. seem like mid-day and it must be a surreal vision to teenagers, off their heads on cocaine, Ecstacy tabs or spliffs, washed down with of litres of San Miguel and shots of tequila chasers.

RIOTOUS RESORT: Magaluf, Mallorca’s partying capital

The local cops police it well, maintaining a watching brief unless something kicks off. Invariably it does, since there are up to 6,000 partying along The Hill on any given night during high season. So it’s testimony to the conscientious vigilance of Calvia’s Policia Local and the Guardia Civil, acting in loco parentis, that worse damage isn’t done to person and property.

As a senior officer told me during an investigation for the Daily Mail this summer (see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2181830), ‘They all seem desperate to drink to excess, which is bewildering to us Spanish. There are plenty taking cannabis and ecstasy, too. We have police patrolling Punta Balena, but there is nothing we can do to stop them partying.’

The Hill, however, could double for a nightlife strip in any UK city, where bars stoke a binge-boozing fury, liberating sexual inhibitions and leeching drug dealers are only a nod or nudge away.

However, the key difference between Magaluf and Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds or Liverpool, is that each summer an average of five to seven of our kids perish here, while many others hobble home on crutches.

Some cynics might argue that with up to 400,000 youngsters a year letting their hair down in the island’s most-headlined resort, that’s a small percentage. But any fatality is one too many and it begs the question: WHY DO SO MANY OF OUR PRECIOUS KIDS DIE ON HOLIDAY IN MAGALUF?

PUNTERS ON THE PUNTA: Crowds throng Punta Balena, hub of Magaluf’s party scene – Photo: Jamie Wiseman of the Daily Mail

Undoubtedly cheap booze – like ‘happy-hour’ deals offering all a kid can knock back for €10 (approximately £8) – and the ease of obtaining drugs are contributory factors.

But curbing their availability isn’t the answer to the problem the Spanish call ‘balconying’, whereby youngsters accidentally death-dive off balconies in the slab-sided jungle of hotels and apartment blocks near Punta Balena that serve as dormitories for our holidaying children, many of whom are away from mum and dad for the first time.

Most of the fatalities are young men, wanting to show off, surprise friends or impress a girl by playing Tarzan. One mistake in this dice with danger and a young life, brimming with promise, self-belief and joy, is snuffed out in seconds.

As I journalist covering Mallorca, nowadays I take the coward’s way out and refuse assignments involving ‘balconying’ fatalities. I’ve just seen too many young corpses, spreadeagle on pavements of the resort’s complexes, covered by tarpaulins, waiting for an ambulance or the mortuary van to take them away.

And I’ve shared the anguish of too many bereaved parents, wearing that familiar look of disbelief and sorrow, as they confided to me tearfully, ‘But he only went away on holiday…’

HIGH-RISE PERIL: A typical Magaluf hotel boasting a baloncy with each room

The exuberance of youth, however, anaesthetises fear. Bravado, braggadocio, a crackpot, spur-of-the-moment impulse overtakes them and the lucky ones who survive live to regret it, their bodies mangled, their legs smashed.

Under the influence of dope or booze – or both – the devastation they’ll reap on their poor families back home never occurs to them.

Of course, there’s a debate about the height of hotel balcony rails, required by law to be 1.3 metres (about 58 inches) in minimum height and, to the best of my knowledge, all hotels comply with this rule.

Maybe, however, that’s not high enough today, given each generation is taller than the last and a strapping, six-foot teenager is a head higher than his dad.

But we Brits in general – and our kids in particular – don’t do balconies, because how many UK homes have one? That’s a  rhetorical question I don’t apologise for asking, since it’s a statement of fact and one of the reasons why British teenagers don’t have more respect for the dangers posed by foreign hotel balconies.

So I return to the dilemma: What can be done to stop our kids coming home from holiday in coffins?

The hotels, of course, could glass in or cover the balconies with bars or chicken-wire. This would be unsightly and possibly result in other security problems, as in the case of a fire. And nothing would have stopped one kid I know, who climbed out of a second-story, staircase window and tried to scale the outside of the building to apologise to his girlfriend after a tiff. He was lucky – a poolside sunbed broke his fall and he survived the 30-foot drop, but nonetheless needed hospitalisation.

PLAYTIME IN MAGALUF: Fuelled by cheap booze, British youngsters drinking until they drop – Photo: Jamie Wiseman of the Daily Mail

Then there are the bars and discos enticing kids to drink to the max. Do these need to be culled or forced to ratchet up their prices to make getting rat-legged unaffordable?

Not a chance, especially when Spain is in financial tailspin and needs all the revenue it can muster. Plus, most kids are canny enough to pre-load on €4 (£3.20) bottles of spirits from the local supermarkets before hitting The Hill.

So, again, back to my question…

Dispassionately, there probably isn’t a 100% surefire solution. But there are ways that could help minimise the carnage of ‘balconying’ death plunges.

Tour operator Thomson specifically warns of the dangers on its website, saying, ‘Never sit or lean over the balcony rail and do not try to pass items to someone on another balcony. Never attempt to climb from one balcony to another… after drinking alcohol as your judgment might be affected.’

And the Commonwealth & Foreign Office (CFO) carries a similar, online caveat.

This, though, smacks of officialdom just covering its back. It isn’t sufficient a deterrent, because youngsters rarely bother to read websites, unless they are social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Badoo.

So, something far more proactive and on-going – maybe for years – is required.

And it can be done through a partnership between the local hotel operators, who cringe at the publicity ‘balconying’ deaths generate, and the British authorities, who got pretty well nowhere (judging by the UK media coverage it generated and lack of impact it had on fatalities) in trying to highlight the deadly issue with a story featuring Olympic diver, Tom Daley.

No, what needs to be done is something far more proactive; a strategy implemented here, on site, in situ, where the kids are, that stop them being a menace to themselves. And it can be achieved through a partnership between the local hotel operators – who cringe at the publicity ‘balconying’ deaths generate – and Britain’s representatives in Spain.

It could even extend to the likes of Facebook, but mostly it requires a little creative, joined-up thinking, like a PR and publicity poster campaign targeted at the vulnerable and, on reflection, I’m surprised nothing like it has been tried before.

Leaflets setting out the perils of balconies to our kids should be distributed on flights en route to Mallorca; hotel lobbies should be plastered with images – the scarier the better, because that works on cigarette packaging – emphasising the dangers.

And the balconies themselves should display permanent, health warning notices, if they don’t already do so.

The message should be explicit and hard-hitting: ‘Enjoy your holiday, but beware of balconies – or you could go home in a coffin,’ it could say.

I’m not naive enough to believe such an initiative will eradicate all ‘balconying’ deaths. But if it stops one kid from climbing over a balcony rail only meet his maker, it will be worth it.

Because one less family won’t have to suffer the unimaginable grief I’ve witnessed etched on the faces of innumerable parents, who have flown to Mallorca to take the child they’ve nurtured so lovingly and tenderly home in a box.

Revealed: Spain’s great consumer tax rise rip-off

In Britain it’s called Value Added Tax (VAT), though where the ‘value added’ is remains a mystery. Elsewhere the self-same iniquity is levied across the European Union, enjoying different handles – here in Spain we call it IVA, while in France it is known as TVA and in Denmark, Finland and Sweden the acronym is the cuddly-sounding, but equally-detestable Moms.

First introduced in 1954 in France, it was based on a wunderbar wheeze for a universal consumer tax coined in 1918 by German industrialist Wilhelm Von Siemens.

Unlike far more equitable income tax, VAT/IVA/TVA or whatever nonsensical tag it poses under is basically pernicious, since it is applied without demur across all demographic groups and consequently hits the poor hardest.

This, though, is generally in keeping with EU custom and practice, since the Europrats of Brussels couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag and their one raison d’etre is keeping their juicy jobs at whatever cost to the people of member nations they allegedly serve or soak (take your pick).

Nations are free – to a limited extent – to fix their own levels of said tax. So, in an effort to dig itself out of the self-impose doo-doo caused by a rampant house-building and lending boom, a couple of months ago the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, announced IVA would rise from 18 to 21% from September 1. To those without a calendar, that was six days ago – a salutary date, as I will endeavour to explain.

To the best of my knowledge and that of 43 million Spaniards, Senor Rajoy never uttered a syllable about the IVA rise being applied retrospectively.

PHONE-A-FIDDLE? Consumers want to know why Telefonica has levied the new 3% tax rise a month early

That fact, however, appears to have conveniently escaped the attention some of the country’s major service providers – notably Telefonica, Spain’s answer to BT and, in its guise as O2 and Movistar, the fifth largest mobile network operator in the world (revenue in 2011: €62,837 billion / profit: €6,187 billion / assets: €129,623 billion).

As I write, a blizzard of monthly bills is cascading through Spanish consumers’ letterboxes with IVA levied at the new rate of 21%, despite the fact that they cover calls and internet services for the month of August, when the tax was still calculated at 18%.

Perhaps this is a technical blip, an accountancy blunder. On the other hand, maybe this is just another example of mega-corporations ripping off customers, with the blind-eyed connivance of government.

Some explanation is required rapido and a good many hard-done-by working folk, who rely on phones, mobiles and internet connections for their dwindling jobs would like to hear it.

Over to you Senor Rajoy…

A shipshape reshuffle from Captain Dave, but don’t expect plain sailing

In nautical terms, for his first Cabinet reshuffle David Cameron has tacked to starboard – or right for you landlubbers – and deserves acclaim for doing so, especially as it maroons the squelchy-wet Lib-Dumbs (sorry, slip of the pen; meant to say Dems), still farther adrift at sea.

The new deck also signals the Prime Minister’s post-General Election intentions should he be returned to office in 2015 without the need to cling onto the wreckage of Nick Clegg’s lot, even if Captain Dave swears on a stack of bibles he has no intention of breaching the existing Coalition agreement.

Justine Greening’s switch from Transport to the wilderness of International Development is a clear indication something is afoot, apropos a third runway at Heathrow.

Commercially, if not environmentally – a word you don’t hear muttered overmuch nowadays – it might cause London mayor Boris Johnson to bristle, but it makes absolute common sense if Britain is to remain the gateway to Europe and reap the trade benefits that brings.

Greening’s successor, Patrick McLoughlin, a tough, blue-collar Tory from a mining-cum-farming constituency in the Derbyshire Dales, isn’t likely to be phased by irate NIMBYs blocking the M4 in protest over expansion at London’s main airport.

And Chris Grayling, who replaces Ken Clarke at Justice – Clarke remaining in Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio, a decent sop to his peerless experience – is a pragmatist who’ll put down the liberal judiciary if they get lippy and, hopefully, tell the EU meddlers where to stick their Human Rights blathering when it contradicts British law.

CAPTAIN CAMERON: A Right turn and full speed ahead to the 2015 General Election

I can’t work out whether Andrew Lansley’s move to Leader of the House from Heath, where Jeremy Hunt takes the bridge, is a demotion or promotion, after all he’s done in trying to reform the dinosaur of the NHS.

And Hunt’s elevation from Culture, Media & Sport is even odder. After the multiple cock-ups he committed over the Murdoch Sky TV bid, many commentators were betting he was for the chop. However, maybe his unctious bravery, acting as Cameron’s human shield before the Leveson phone-hacking enquiry, has earned him an extra stripe.

Still, I don’t fancy the future health of the Health Ministry under his stewardship.

And so onto a few others…former joint-Tory Party chairperson, Sayeeda Warsi’s shift to a down-table seat in the Foreign Office is a surefire demotion, though she’ll still attend Cabinet as Minister for Faith and Communities.

In contrast, Grant Shapps transfer from Housing to party chairmanship as another Minister without Portfolio is decidedly a promotion.

In general and despite still having to partially share the helm with the dead hand of the Lib-Dumbs (sorry Dems…must be a glitch in the computer) Cameron’s shake-up is positive and encouraging.

He clearly wants some true, blue-sky thinking in place before 2015, even though he hasn’t stuck to his guns and elevated more women (in fact, he jettisoned two: Caroline Spelman and Cheryl Gillan).

Finally, the only positive in the reshuffle for Clegg is David Law rejoining the government as a minister in the Department for Education, after the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury resigned barely two weeks after the formation of the Coalition after breaching expenses rules.

So how will the mixed complement of two crews with conflicting ideologies fair over the next three years before a General Election now that the Tories have tacked harder Right?

Personally, I still don’t see the good ship Coalition going the distance and a shipwreck looms somewhere over the horizon.

Tutu: Is the saintly archbishop also an arch-hypocrite?

There are certain people in this world off-limits to criticism, because they’re icons of the international Left, which has often scraped the bottom of the PR barrel raising them to saint-like status. Gandhi and Che Guevara were two and another who readily springs to mind is Desmond Tutu.

I won’t decry the first pair – others have done that before me (recommended reading: Arthur Koestler’s expose of the Machiavellian mahatma in his book, The Yogi and the Commissar) – but I’m happy to join the growing clamour of critics, who allege the former archbishop of Cape Town is an outrageous hypocrite.

It’s easy to be entranced by the smiley, giggly, wide-eyed little chatterbox and his reputation as an outspoken crusader for human rights, not least as a champion of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement.

But let me borrow the words of Tutu’s fellow CofE clergyman, the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, former Rector of St. Michael, Cornhill and St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, in the City of London, who asks:-

What, for instance, was his [Tutu’s] part in the anti-apartheid struggle? He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of ‘constructive engagement’ with the Pretoria government and advocated that all nations should refuse to invest in South Africa. He knew that the direst consequences of this would fall on the black poor. He said at the time that this would be ‘suffering with a purpose’ – for them, of course, not for him.

A long time ago, there were people courageous enough to criticise Tutu. He was castigated for ‘selective indignation’ because of his passive attitude to the coup regime in Lesotho (1970-86). He had been a teacher there and later a bishop. But he made a run for it when civil war broke out: a decision to be contrasted with that of the Lesotho Evangelical Church leaders who stayed at their posts. Many were murdered for their courage and for sticking to their principles.

TUTU: Hamas fan, who won’t sit down with Tony Blair

Tutu is also a trenchant flag-waver for Hamas, the terrorist lynch mob controlling Gaza with the iron first of Islamic extremism, who throw members of the opposition Fatah movement off tall buildings for fun, use kids as human shields, subjugate women to the level of pack animals, want to execute homosexuals and, naturally, are hell-bent on murdering all Jews, whether they reside in Israel or not.

The retired archbishop’s dear wish is to walk in a march on Jerusalem, travelling in the same footsteps Ahmad Abo Halabiya, one of Hamas’s thugs-in-chief, who recently railed in a sermon broadcast live on Palestinian TV, ‘Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them…and those Americans who are like them, and those who stand by them.’

Any hint of approbation from the venerable, old cleric over this viciously anti-Semitic rant? Not a tut – or even a tutu, you might say.

That, though, is understandable given that Tutu never misses an opportunity to slag off the Middle East’s only fully-functioning democracy, comparing it with apartheid-era South Africa and memorably stating once that Zionism had ‘very many parallels with racism’.

Maybe Tutu ought to widen his big eyes a little wider and have a confab with Ghaleb Majadlah, an Arab-Israeli government minister. Or Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab-Israeli journalist, who once reminded him, ‘Arab citizens can go to the same beaches, restaurants and shopping malls as Jews in this ‘apartheid’ state.’

Tutu might also like to have a gander at the fate of his fellow Christians being persecuted in many Muslim countries and the brutal handiwork of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

But the saintly, little Nobel Laureate seems to see only what he chooses.

Last week, however, Tutu’s headline-grabbing hyperbole reached new heights when he refused to attend an international leadership summit in Johannesburg with Tony Blair, because, as his office said, ‘Mr. Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq…was morally indefensible…it would be inappropriate and untenable for the Archbishop to share a platform with Mr. Blair.’

Funny, I can’t remember His Grace murmuring much about Saddam Hussein murdering millions – many of them Iraqis – or invading Kuwait and causing mayhem in a region akin to a tinderbox.

Moreover, the statement from his office appears to contradict a patronizing lecture he gave the Israelis some years ago, when he visited the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem and said blithely, ‘Our Lord would say that in the end the positive thing that can come [from the Holocaust] is the spirit of forgiving.’

Clearly his ‘forgiveness’ doesn’t extend to Tony Blair, a fellow Christian.

However, like the rest of the bleeding-heart Left who idolise him, the holy, smiley cleric maybe not be all he appears and Blair’s a lucky man to have escaped sharing a platform with an archbishop who, in the opinion of a growing number, is an arch-hypocrite.