IF only Melvyn Bragg had ambitions of being Prime Minister.

He is an astute Parliamentarian and man of the people whose art is in the right place.

As we endure repetitive promises from the two candidates for the UK's highest office, Melvyn should be brought into Number 10 as an advisor on how to boost the nation's wellbeing.

The charismatic writer and broadcaster is 80 this year and yet still manages to stay awake in the House of Lords.

Although a Labour Peer, he is respected across all political parties for his common sense and articulate approach to life.

Like Sir David Attenborough and the late, great Sir Richard Attenborough we need communicators like him to guide the country's moral and creative compass.

The good ship Great Britain has been rudder-less for some time since we hit the Brexit ice berg.

The political tsunami continues to drown out issues closer-to home.

This week, in a passionate essay in the Radio Times, Melvyn made a case for the arts - an inspiring viewpoint and one that every politician and local councillor should read and support.

He points out that the arts have been key to the development of war-damaged cities such as Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool since 1945.

Stresses Melvyn: "More than ever we need to build on our strengths.

"The arts are one of them.

"Outside London the fight is on by dedicated minorities to convince councils and patrons that this is the way forward for employment as well as enhancement of life."

Melvyn says the UK needs the Arts Council to serve the whole country and not to just 'overserve' the South.

"It needs local councils - so much and so unjustly reduced over the last twenty years - nevertheless to enable the arts to get a grip on their local societies."

Melvyn's marvellous manifesto ends with his own question time: "So why do politicians ignore all this?"


"MAY I introduce to you the act you've known for all these years ... the one and only Bill Shears ..."

Fans at the Dodger Stadium last week heard Sir Paul McCartney at 77 introduce Sir Ringo Starr (79) to make up 50 per cent of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - aka The Beatles.

The end-of-the-US tour audience enjoyed an unforgettable day in their lives.

As he sets off on a tour with Queen without the mercurial Freddie, Dr Brian May said he was saddened that he never got to see The Beatles perform live in their latter years especially with all, the high-tech, in-your face special effects available.

The Beatles didn't need such concert cosmetics.

Anyone who has seen Macca in concert will know that apart from Live and let die explosions he lets the 38 songs in the three-hour set do the talking.

Paul, unlike Freddie, only makes one costume change - taking off his coat jacket.

Oh, and on rare occasions, a little help from a friend.


NEXT Tuesday history is being made when the country's 25th Prime Minister is revealed.

Our new PM will then be invited into Number 10 Downing Street to pick up the envelope containing the nuclear codes.

That's a very scary thought if Boris lands the job. He is allegedly not very good with figures.

Whoever becomes the First Lord of the Treasury - another title for the role of PM - there's a lot of politically-punishing work ahead in the diary: carving a new cabinet; preparing for the Tory Party conference and then the Hallowe'en trick or treats Brexit deadline.

Whatever the outcome, there's bound to be even more fireworks on November 5.


FAKE news (part 1) Tony Hall - Baron Hall of Birkenhead and director general of the BBC - has warned the world is facing its biggest assault on truth since the Hitler propaganda machine and mis-information of the 1930s.

At the Global conference for Media Freedom in London he warned we must turn the tide on the biggest assault yet on truth.

The BBC has a role to play in battling fake news and press repression in aims to promote freedom and democracy.

Hear hear.

It's comforting to know, too, that local newspapers are increasingly trusted by the public.

In the meantime, Tony, back to a real home truth ... to help combat fake news to all ages any chance on making a U-turn on the life-saving free TV licences for the over 75s?


FAKE news (part 2) this term is now aptly-described in modern speech as a 'pack of lies' or, as William Spooner once said, a 'lack of pies.'

'Spoonerism' is celebrated on July 22 when an absent-minded Oxford Don called Dr Spooner was born and went on to literally mess up frequently and accidentally transposing the initial letters of adjacent words causing un-intended hilarity in the process.

He certainly did wonders for Ronnie Barker's career.

Spooner, who died in 1930, made his immortal phrases mostly to his students with telling-offs such as: "you have hissed all my mystery lessons."

Or the classic reprimand: "You have tasted two worms. Pack up your rags and bugs and leave immediately by the town drain."

They actually make more sense than Donald Trump’s tweets.


And finally ...

WATCHING moon landing anniversaries reminds me of the time I was travelling from Liverpool Lime Street to London and the train stopped for ages as we entered the capital.

Much laughter ensued when, over the crackling intercom, the guard remarked: "Euston ... we have a problem."

Peter Grant