Richard Porritt's Agenda: Corbyn's conundrum, history's busiest spin doctor and rare praise for Theresa May

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:13 08 February 2018

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

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RICHARD PORRITT with this week's big stories, including an outlandish Danish immigration plan, why Austria is Europe's ashtray and France's least gangsta rapper

In light of the latest polling, will Jeremy Corbyn finally wake up to the fact that much of his party doesn’t want Brexit?

The youth vote, which has swelled the party’s membership and propelled Corbyn to two leadership contest victories, is on board with most of his policies. But not Brexit. In fact a survey for new campaign group Our Future Our Choice found Labour risked losing 34% of young Remainers if they went into the next election not opposing Brexit. And this comes on the back of flatlining ratings anyway. One Labour source said: “Jeremy was never that bothered because he never thought he could actually be Prime Minister. Perhaps now he does he’ll listen to the large number of Remain members he’s got?” Don’t hold your breath folks.

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So farewell then to Gawain Towler, UKIP press guru and perhaps the busiest spin doctor in the history of the dark arts.

Here are just a few of scandals long-suffering Towler (pictured right with Henry Bolton and featured on the opposite page) has had to deal with:

« MEP Godfrey Bloom tells party conference meeting the room is “full of sluts” claiming he meant the term to mean “untidy”;

« UKIP councillor David Silvester tells a local newspaper the 2013 floods were God’s way of punishing Britain for legalising gay marriage;

«The UKIP Calypso single, performed by celebrity supporter Mike Read, which he sang in a cod Caribbean accent.

But Jo Marney’s racist messages were the final straw.

Whatever you think of UKIP – very little as a New European reader presumably – Towler certainly put the hours in. Many believe his exit is a bigger blow to the party than the Bolton affair.

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Here is a rarity: Praise for Theresa May. The Prime Minister’s announcement that Government is launching a review of the sustainability of Britain’s newspaper industry in the face of online competition for advertising revenue is welcome news. The key focus is the regional sector which has been hit hard by the prevalence of the internet and mobile phones. As the reality of Brexit bites our regional press will pay a huge role telling the stories of the people on the street – power to their elbow.

Denmark’s largest opposition party think they have cracked the country’s immigration issues – send asylum seekers to camps in Africa.

The outlandish, and frankly inhumane, plan was put forward by the Social Democrats. They seem to think that shipping people off to a Danish-run camp in an as-yet unspecified North African country is a real option. And they argue that it would not break human rights laws.

Although, not surprisingly, right-wingers welcomed the idea, even they pointed out the logistical nightmare that setting up and running a camp would throw up. Marcus Knuth, immigration issues spokesman with the governing Liberal party, said he wished his party could “click our fingers” and enact the proposal. But he added the situation in most of the countries where the camp could be housed was too unstable and the more stable nations would not consider the plan “in their wildest dreams”.

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Austria is known as Europe’s “ashtray” after refusing to enforce smoking bans.

Smokers can still light up in special rooms in cafes and bars although even those lax rules are flouted. But the previous government was keen to ban smoking in all pubs and restaurants, a move which has now been thrown out after pressure from the far-right Freedom Party, who are junior partners in the new coalition. Now doctors have launched a petition to beef up Austria’s law saying it would save thousands of lives each year. But while chancellor Sebastian Kurz needs Freedom Party votes, expect the smoking to go on.

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Rappers have a notorious reputation – one they work hard to maintain.

For decades, they have been seen as the bad boys of the music biz: NWA caused riots with their anti-police rhetoric, Biggie Smalls and 2Pac rapped about guns and were subsequently murdered while Eminem’s violent lyrics caused outrage among parents across the globe.

And now French rapper Sofiane can add a moment of notoriety to rap’s history of rebellion. Although his misdemeanour is quite different than most. The 31-year-old – whose hits include Bandit Saleté and Mon p’tit Loup – appeared before a judge in Paris and was handed a three-month suspended sentence after he caused tailbacks on the A3 motorway.

But what was he up to? A shoot out with a rival gang? Racing his sports car after a late-night party? Nope. Sofiane and his entourage jumped out of their cars, set up a tea party and filmed it.

And his rebellious response to his sentence? “I’ve learnt my lesson,” he told the judge. Good lad.

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