THE BLOG

What Kind of Week Has It Been? 7 June 2014

06/06/2014 13:36 BST | Updated 05/08/2014 10:59 BST

The relaxing hammock bear of news

Nobody likes to admit they're wrong, but whether it's a team of footballers' passport numbers being printed on a sheet willy nilly, or the ease with which an embattled head of government setting my election senses tingling can be made look like a git in four minutes flat, this week has seen an inordinate number of people needing to apologise and climb down embarrassingly. No more so than in Belfast, where a Rally Against Racism following Northern just being plain horrible led to a meta-apology by First Minister Peter Robinson, after he said he didn't trust Muslims who practice Sharia Law, but Muslims who go to Sainsbury's are fine. But the blood is up now, and there's another rally this Saturday. You'd almost think it wasn't cool making outbursts about Chinese public representatives or hassling people in their houses. Meanwhile Martin McGuinness has put a bit of clear blue water between his fellow First Minister by not just denouncing the racism, but giving the papers a fun anecdote about Jane Fonda in his kitchen.

It's doubtful that Good Morning Britain was on in the background as Jane asked Marty about Bogside community relations over croissants, because a) It was the seventies and the show wasn't on then and b) McGuinness probably only watched Irish TV back then as a point of principle. But nobody seems to be watching now when it definitely is on, to the point where ITV may axe it. That would be pretty humiliating but they wouldn't do it immediately, as six months is the international waters of humiliation. Assuming it doesn't sink without trace of its own accord before then.

But the biggest climbdown by far this week has been the location of the 2022 World Cup. Yes, Qatar has really got up the nose (forgive me) of pretty much everyone this week, as their bid has been revealed to be what everybody suspected already: suspect. Never mind the fact that a thousand labourers have died while building the stadia, or Qatar and human rights go together like George RR Martin and wedding planning, or the fact it would be so hot it would have to be held in winter to avoid players being poached before our eyes. The fact the circumstances they were awarded the tournament was dodgier than Diana Ross' penalty taking abilities is almost by the by after all that.

Not a climb down in the usual sense but in Spain King Juan Carlos has abdicated the throne after nearly forty years, the third European monarch to do so in two years. Prince Charles, meanwhile, becomes more of a regal Seymour Skinner every day. Juan Carlos' abdication has led to a surge in Republican sentiment, with public gatherings waving a really purdy Civil War flag. I'd probably lean towards elected heads of state myself, but I'd infinitely prefer what Prince Felipe's dad had to clean up after.

All this talk of separating tradition stemming from rebellious regional areas sounds all too familiar to the Union diehards at Westminster, some of whom at The Spectator are quite insistent that an old lady reading a speech is the essence of the state. Which is perfectly fine, though in general the right's thoughts about large families funded by the public are far from consistent. Meanwhile David Cameron has stepped up the Scottish referendum threats by saying and independent Scotland would have to take its place in the queue behind Serbia and Macedonia for EU membership, which would be a real kick in the Balkans. Of course, with Scotland already having MEP's, would the UK excluding Scotland be any more legitimate as an entity within the UK than an independent Scotland? David Cameron may have to climb down on that threat himself in due course.

Across the water the Irish Labour Party, who will only manage to stay in government next time round if they form their own commune and secede from the rest of the state, officially have a leadership battle on their hands. Junior Minister Alex White and Cabinet member Joan Burton will are both putting their hats in the ring to see who will be at the helm of the party during their orderly procession into an electoral iceberg, with half the party seemingly wanting Deputy Leader. If they're counting on courting the pagan vote though, they may have a tough fight on their hands, as a People Before Profit Councillor in Wexford has become the first openly pagan (and I'm guessing the first closed pagan too) to sit on a local authority. Despite being dubbed a "White Witch" during the campaign apparently she said that when people realised she wasn't from any of the main parties, people were very open-minded. Peter Robinson, take note.