The Week According to Sean Dilley
Broadcaster and general nuisance Sean Dilley gives his take on the week in politics.
Christmas and new year may have come and gone, but politics waits for no man. I think someone once said that? Well I just said it anyway, but it's certainly a reality this year.
While many of us were clearing up our tinsel and packing away our trees, the effervescent Keith Vaz pitched up at Luton Airport to welcome new arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria to highlight the Home Affairs Select Committee's view on the hype around newly lifted restrictions on residents of the two eastern European countries working in the UK.
The Leicester East MP spoke of the 141,000 Romanians and Bulgarians already living in the UK who could now, he said, "come out of the shadows" with all the benefits for the treasury that followed.
And on a recent visit to eastern Europe, the Home Affairs Select Committee said there was little evidence of people wanting to come over to the UK to work.
It's certainly true to say that there has been much hype about the lifting of working restrictions. Doom merchants have suggested a crime wave would follow and more and more people have taken the opportunity to bash Bulgarians and Romanians, the majority of whom in my personal experience have a strong work ethic. But frankly, such hype on this issue has, anecdotally at least caused the nation's anger and prejudices to turn on the new boys and girls thanks to the green light given by those who should, and perhaps do know better.
If this were not the case, would those same people who casually attack immigration from new accession countries not also be foaming at the mouth about the nearly 75% of migration to the UK from outside of the European Union?
Don't fall in to the unsavoury trap people… it's how Hitlers and Francos are born.
Can someone please tell me what genius advised David Cameron to use his new year message to beg the Scots not to break the Union?
Now it's a sure fire bet that the PM probably intended his message to be viewed broadly by all of society but narrowed as it was in much media reporting, 'team Cameron' may not have stopped to consider how voters might react.
I mean his personal popularity across the UK plummeted to it's lowest level ever in the autumn but, and this may come as a genuine shock to some, he is a Conservative prime minister at the end of the day, and more than this, he is a Conservative prime minister addressing Scottish people, 83% of whom voted against him at the General Election and many of whom are still a bit miffed about that whole poll tax business.
My own advice to politicians of all political persuasions is never, ever, ever, ever tell the public what to do unless it's some kind of fiendish attempt at reverse psychology. This is never truer than for Conservative PM's wishing to lecture Scots if we're being realistic about things.
Sad news reaches us this week that Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe and Sayle East is seriously ill in hospital following his collapse on a run near his home.
Though Paul remains seriously ill in Salford Royal Hospital, I know politicians and journalists alike will be wishing for his rapid recovery and return to Parliament.
I read with interest reports by the well informed Sky News that around 75% of prisoners convicted of "extreme Islamist offences" are "resisting rehabilitation".
Their sources say around 110 of the 150 extreme Islamist criminals in prison or on parole are proactively resisting attempts to persuade them away from such beliefs despite the government's "Contest" scheme which encourages offenders to choose a path of non violence.
Now I'll run the risk of being lampooned here but is it only me who's actually quite impressed if 40 formerly violent extremists have genuinely turned a new leaf? Perhaps it's also just me who conjures up images of Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' with James Bond, or who knows, Theresa May forcibly holding eyelids open while forcing convicts to watch reruns of the Royal Wedding until they're overcome with an unexpected wave of patriotism and loyalty for the establishment they had hitherto wanted to destroy?… Yes, I think so.