The Sun has quietly dropped its topless Page 3 models — bringing an end to the newspaper’s oftentimes vile campaign against its opponents.

In perhaps the most notorious exchange, ex-MP Clare Short was branded “fat and jealous” in an editorial and article which photoshopped her face onto a naked young woman:

“PAGE THREE girls say their arch-critic Clare Short is just “jealous”. They also call her “fat and ugly”. And who are we to disagree with their verdict?

Page 3: Clare Short branded 'fat and jealous'

On trial for phone hacking last year, former editor Rebekah Brooks branded the “cruel and harsh” attack one of the biggest mistakes of her tenure. But by that point the paper was running scared of the burgeoning No More Page 3 campaign, which was celebrating this morning:

In a last-ditch bid to save the anachronism, the Currant Bun even attempted to align Page 3 with a breast cancer prevention campaign last year.

But Scrapbook exposed the cynical nature of the campaign — revealing that a senior member of the paper’s editorial management team had strode round the newsroom and exclaimed:

“This is brilliant! The feminists are really confused!”

With his faltering support for the feature, however, it was Rupert Murdoch that was confused.

Michael Gove

One of the Tories’ flagship Free Schools is almost certain to go to the walllosing its government funding after being put into special measures following a damning Ofsted report.

Here’s what Michael Gove had to say about the school back in September 2013:

Grahame Morris MP: It has been reported that the Durham free school has nine staff for 30 pupils. Does that, in addition to its unlimited capital, represent good value for the taxpayer or is it an act of political folly?

Michael Gove: I think it represents excellent value, because for far too long, as the hon. Gentleman knows, schools in County Durham, particularly in the east of the county, have not been good enough.

Having since been sacked as education secretary, his successor today claimed the school had no “imminent prospect of improvement”.

Jonathan Sacks

With his secretary of state for communities under fire over his anti-extremism letter to Muslim leaders, David Cameron rushed to Eric Pickles’ aid with the following sound bite:

“Anyone, frankly, reading this letter who has a problem with it, I think really has a problem.

He obviously missed the Today programme, then. Here’s former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“I’ll tell you what the problem is: that letter suggested that the Muslim community within Britain can contain its own radicals and the truth is that Islamism … is actually a global phenomenon transmitted by the internet, transmitted by social media.

“I am absolutely sure that the government was incredibly well intentioned … But I can kind of see [why] the Muslim community says ‘Why are you pointing the finger of blame at us?’

Oooops.

Double facepalm

The public body responsible for enforcing compliance with the Freedom of Information Act is currently subject to a complaint from its own staff — for, errrr, failing to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

With a pay dispute raging at the Information Commissioner’s Office, the regulator has not only ignored an FOI request on an 11% raise for three senior executives but also a follow-up complaint from its own branch of the PCS union.

Like other public bodies, they are obligated to respond to requests within 20 working days — whether they actually release the information or not.

Perhaps time to read their own guidance.

UPDATE: Statement from the ICO …

“The ICO has a general duty to investigate complaints from members of the public who believe that an authority has failed to respond correctly to a request for information. That duty includes handling cases where the ICO is itself the public authority. A complaint of this type will be dealt with in the same way as any other, with safeguards in place to ensure an independent decision.”

Grant Shapps posing as Michael Green

Tory chairman Grant Shapps has raised eyebrows by denying that their American adviser Jim Messina is involved in targeting groups of voters, claiming instead that ex-Obama guru — one of the world’s most expensive political consultants — has instead been helping to, errrrr, organise campaign road trips for young Tory Boys (and girls).

His claims come after Scrapbook revealed that Messina was curiously absent from the Conservatives’ spending returns for the Rochester and Strood by-election — despite his company MQR polling local voters during the campaign.

“Messina is doing some stuff but we aren’t targeting groups … We want to say that everyone will benefit from our plans whoever you are. It’s patronising to get into that whole segmenting thing, we all need the same things in life.

“[Our young Tory road trips] have team captains, T-shirts, road trips. Jim Messina has been brilliant on organisation around that, telling us how it worked in the Obama campaign. The T-shirts are rewards.”

His flat denial of segmentation will come as news to the Conservatives’ opponents in marginal seats, who have seen the Tories target different subsets of voters in their constituencies with direct mail.

As for Messina, perhaps he was polling Rochester and Strood for Barack Obama.

A Liberal Democrat general electio leaflet being distributed in Nick Clegg’s constituency doesn’t mention the deputy prime minister once — despite being printed in his own office.

Having spent five years in coalition with the Conservative Party, Clegg’s team have the brass neck to try and attack Labour over proposed cuts:

The Nick Clegg leaflet that doesn't mention Nick Clegg

A party which will adopt Tory policies — “are they really worth voting for?”, asks the leaflet.

Indeed …

David Cameron and Nick Clegg outside Downing Street

David Cameron pats Nick Clegg on the shoulder

Jake Berry: Hail Satan!

Grant Shapps’ parliamentary bag carrier Jake Berry MP (above) has spent his morning attempting to introduce a bill — backed by ministers — designed to overturn a High Court ruling stating that “The saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a Council is not lawful under s111 of the Local Government Act 1972″.

It may come as some surprise that the most staunch opposition to the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill came not from a liberal secular Labour or Lib Dem MP but from senior Tory backbencher James Arbuthnot — who, errr, warned that the measure could help to promote Satanism:

“at a meeting of Lake Worth City Commission last month, the invocation was given by an atheist called Preston Smith. He began his invocation with the words: ‘May the efforts of this council blend the righteousness of Allah with the all-knowning wisdom of Satan.

“The fact that the effect of the public sector equality duty on this bill is at local authority’s choosing to hold religious observance in their meetings will not then be able lawfully to discriminate against the observances of the religion of Satanism … seems to me to be a clear and unavoidable interpretation of the effect of the two statutes.”

Prepare for more comedy when this is debated by the Lords.

WhatsApp

After attempting to ban spanking porn from the interwebs, encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp could be the next victim of David Cameron’s technological idiocy. His demands that there should be “no means of communication [which the security services] cannot read”  would mean that:

  • British software companies would be banned from producing secure software
  • China-style deep packet inspection of British internet traffic
  • The open source software powering banking and ecommerce would be banned
  • Blocking downloads of all apps and other software employing encryption

But does the PM realise that at least one of his own cabinet ministers uses WhatsApp to communicate with his special advisers?

So forcing WhatsApp owners Facebook to insert a so-called ‘back door’ in the software would leave the government’s own communications vulnerable to snooping by foreign spooks — whose hackers would be all over such a vulnerability like a rash.

Slow clap.