I understand that when you have been declared bankrupt and are in need of money you are forced to make difficult decisions. Despite changing circumstances it is important to maintain your common dignity.

I was therefore horrified to watch the disgraced former Tory MP and Minister Neil Hamilton and his wife on breakfast television yesterday giving relationship advice to callers and cracking practical jokes which were about as funny as one of the later Carry On films. Neil Hamilton joked that now he wasn't a politician he no longer had to tell lies.

The happy couple, still reeling from their problems with the “Eqyptian grocer,” aka Mohammed Al Fayed, were then involved in a stunt which had obvious sexual overtones. Earlier, they had given their relationship advice from the comfort of a double bed, duvet and all. As I was sitting there eating my cornflakes I thought to myself what would the people of Tatton, his former constituency be thinking? What would the Conservative Party hierarchy be thinking? I don't really care about the Hamiltons, as my grandmother would say, they have made their bed, they must now lie in it but what about the thousands of people who gave Hamilton their vote and trust? The court battle, the subsequent defeat and claims and counter claims and now this.

What an absolute disaster. I would give the same advice as Norman Tebbit gave to the unemployed, Mr. Hamilton, get on your bike and find a proper job and try to maintain some common decency, you are just making a laughing stock of yourself and the poor people who voted for you.

Jason Moore

Mini-summits

“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” – as the pigs proclaimed in George Orwell's Animal Farm. “All countries are equal but some are more equal than others” – as the European Union discovered yesterday when Britain, France and Germany decided to hold a mini–summit ahead of the full EU gathering in Ghent called to discuss the way the world has changed since September 11. In the past Britain has been critical of such ”inner circles” because of its exclusion from those concerned with the EU's economy and the single currency.

What a difference a war makes! Chancellor Schroeder of Germany has recently called again for the EU to “define its common foreign and security policy” if it wishes to have any political influence internationally. The reality is that Britain, because of its relationship with the United States, will always tend to determine its own foreign policy and then invite the EU to tag along. Yesterday's meeting was called by the Belgium government which holds the EU presidency until the end of the year when Spain takes over the baton. Belgium has not covered itself with glory thus far in its six–month presidency.

When its foreign mininster, Louis Michel, appeared recently on a TV talk show he first criticised Tony Blair and then awarded the Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi “zero points” for his performance since the Twin Towers attacks. The Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, had to intervene to calm matters down by telephoning and writing in conciliatory terms to Sr Berlusconi. But what could he say?

Monitor

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