A few years back, I was on tour in Germany. By sheer chance, someone I'd gone to college with was sitting in the audience in Munich. It was a big thrill to see so familiar a face so far from home and as it turned out, Colin had moved with his girlfriend to Dachau. This gave me the incentive I needed to do, something I'd been putting off: which was to visit a concentration camp.
I have to say that I felt dreadfully sorry for Maria Miller during the recent vicious public 'stoning' over her expenses.
David Cameron said when he came to power he wanted to improve people's happiness - that government policy was to be more focused on those things that make life worthwhile. To this end, the Cabinet Office has recently revealed which jobs in the UK give us the most satisfaction. Top of the list, of 274 job titles, is vicar; bottom of the list, is pub landlord. It is perhaps a surprise that these two jobs should be at opposite ends of the table given that they share many similarities: they both have dwindling regulars, both dish out wine and nibbles and if you spend a long time in either's establishment, you can think imaginary people are talking to you.
I have a very simple message for MPs after the events of the past few days: if you want to be respected, behave respectably. If you don't want us to have contempt for you, don't behave contemptibly. I mean, how difficult is it to behave like decent, law-abiding human beings? No cheating, no lying, no stealing from taxpayers... Too few MPs, it seems, have bothered to remember the old adage: Be nice to people on your way up, because you'll need them on your way down.
With barely a voting slip between the two main parties, honesty is going to be the subject in the minds of most of the electorate come the General Election next year. Just who do the public trust most at a time when the popularity of politicians is at an all-time low?
People today should be talking about the IMF declaring this morning that Britain's projected growth rate will be the highest in the G7. But through crass ineptitude Dave has ensured all people will be talking about today is a dodgy dealing cabinet minister and Dave's double standards. This is gold dust for Nigel Farage...
The Miller apology has to be the shortest by a politician ever on record. And that's its deadly mistake. None of the papers were in the slightest bit interested in what was contained within it - they were just reporting its brevity.
For a country whose political leaders, intelligentsia, and media commentators have made a habit of pointing the finger at governments, countries, and political systems around the world, adjudging them to be corrupt and morally deficient, the scale of the hypocrisy in this regard is truly astounding.
In the lead up to 2015, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband all have one key issue to address - that of trust. Until the public can regain confidence in the parliamentary system as well as their respect for MPs, the electorate will find it hard to determine which way to vote, if indeed they vote at all.
We have a lot be proud of when it comes to gender equality and there are many signs that show how much progress has been made. Over two thirds of working age women are in work - more than ever before; nearly 60% of new graduates are now women, along with over 50% of new postgraduates... The workplace was designed by men, for men. The Government is playing its part too by helping to modernise the workplace. However, we still have much more work to do.
This weekend we mark the 103rd International Women's Day. It's an opportunity to celebrate women's social, economic and political achievements and, just as importantly, to highlight the barriers to full equality that still exist, more than a century on.
Michael Gove, Education Secretary, is determined to raise academic standards and few would argue against that. However, schools are under pressure to become autonomous, to set their own curriculums and budgets and to move away from local authority control and there is an argument that this policy together with a greater focus on narrow performance measures and less money is undermining the arts in education.
The idea that a British Government Minister should think it necessary to make a speech about the importance of culture must astonish Germans. For them, culture is as natural as breathing. The British have also made an exceptional contribution to culture and continue to do so but our reputation for philistinism in high places continues.
Twenty seconds. That's all it takes to spin a digital roulette wheel. Twenty seconds and you're on the road to financial ruin, relationship breakdown and despair. These pernicious machines are destroying the lives of the poorest in society. Gamblers can bet £100 per stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) whereas fruit machines have a limit of only £2. When you're on the minimum wage, £100 is a lot to lose. These high stakes make FOBTs a major source of profit for the industry and it's why I want their use curbed. Many addiction charities and MPs agree... Imagine my disbelief then to discover the Government won't act.
In three years' time, the BBC Charter will be up for renewal. It is safe to say that this Charter renewal will be more significant than others for a number of reasons...
Keen followers of the cinema and film industry amongst you may know that the government is considering plans to change the way in which cinemas are licensed. While this might seem a trivial issue, anyone who cares about the cinema-going experience should take note.