INDEPENDENT 2024-03-31 16:06:13


Roger Daltrey says ‘I’m on my way out’ weeks after 80th birthday

The Who musician Roger Daltrey has reflected on his generation after reaching a milestone age, stating: “I’m on my way out.”

Daltrey, who has been the frontman of the “Pinball Wizard” rock band since 1964, stepped down as the curator of the annual Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) gigs, which took place at Royal Albert Hall this month, after turning 80 on on 1 March.

Over the last 24 years, as the leader of TCT, Daltrey, a vociferous supporter of Brexit, has helped to raise £32m for specialised NHS units to care for young cancer sufferers.

He has now reflected on his decision to end his time as the event’s curator, suggesting it stemmed from a desire to “be realistic” about his future.

Writing in a “backstage diary” for The Times, Daltrey said: “I have to be realistic. I’m on my way out. The average life expectancy is 83 and with a bit of luck I’ll make that, but we need someone else to drive things.

“I’m not leaving TCT – I’ve been a patron since I first met the charity’s founders, Dr Adrian and Myrna Whiteson, more than 30 years ago – and that will continue, but I’ll be working in the back room, talking to the government, rattling cages.”

Daltrey said he had concern “about how many words” he had to remember ahead of recent shows he performed, and admitted to feeling nervous beforehand.

“On at 8.40pm and I’ve got to say I really feel it tonight,” he wrote, adding: “We haven’t done anything for seven months and this winter’s been brutal. I’ve been in hibernation. For the whole of January, I lost my voice completely.

“I live like a monk and if I went on tour for a week I’d be fit as a butcher’s dog again, but tonight, for the first time in my career, I think, ‘Blimey, this is hard.’”

Daltrey paid tribute to the “unsung heroes” who have aided the events over the years during The Who’s swansong performance.

The Teenage Cancer Trust has said it plans on working with a series of guest curators next year, after Daltrey steps down. While the rock legend said he isn’t going away from the TCT, and will continue to serve the charity as an honorary patron, he has “completed the job” he “set out to do”.

Election candidate loses fingertip in dog attack through letter box

A Green Party council candidate had her fingertip bitten off by a dog as she posted a leaflet while on the campaign trail for the local elections.

Danica Priest was leafleting in Bristol ahead of the vote on 2 May when the canine pounced as she put her party’s literature through the letterbox. The owners of the dog later returned to find Ms Priest’s fingertip inside their home next to a bloodstained leaflet.

Recalling the harrowing incident in a post on X, she wrote: “Leafleting took a dark turn today unfortunately.

“I have sadly lost half of my finger and am in the hospital waiting to see if they can attach it again. Luckily I have the amazing @EllieFreemanBS3 with me who stopped everything and drove to be with me.”

Ms Priest, the Green candidate for Filwood, told The Independent she had undergone successful reconstructive surgery on Saturday. She said she was now on the “road to recovery”, adding: “It wasn’t a difficult letterbox – I didn’t hear a dog behind the door.”

Ms Priest said she didn’t know what type of dog attacked her, but was later told by its owners that it was not a dangerous dog like an XL bully and had no history of aggressive behaviour. The dog’s owners were able to reach Ms Priest because she had left her contact details with their neighbours.

Colleagues sent their best wishes and urged dog owners to make their letterboxes safer.

“Send healing vibes to our Danica please, nastily injured in the line of campaigning duty,” Emma Edwards, leader of the Green Group of councillors in Bristol, wrote on X. “Also, all folk leafletting for local elections currently, the advice to use a spatula is not a joke, spatulas save fingers (I actually have a spatula missing a corner from a dog bite).”

Patrick McAllister, a Green Party councillor in Bristol,  also wished Ms Priest a speedy recovery and warned activists to take care while out leafletting.

“Hoping for a swift recovery for Danica; this is an awful injury and incredibly unlucky,” he wrote on X. “A good reminder to all campaigners to use an implement like a spatula or wooden spoon to post your leaflets. I had to retire my first spatula because a dog took a bite from it.”

‘Tourists stay away’ warns the ruling party of failed-state Britain

Disdain for tourists has never been stronger among European nations. Amsterdam has launched a campaign to deter overindulgent visitors. Next month, opposition intensifies in Spain and Italy. Activists in the Canary Islands will stage a huge demonstration in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, saying they are “overwhelmed” by tourism. And from May, Venice starts testing a day charge for tourists of €5 on peak dates in spring and summer.

The UK is going one better. As English Tourism Week 2024 ended last week, the governing party embarked on a campaign to frighten away prospective visitors.

London is the main gateway for most incoming tourists and by far the biggest single draw to Britain. Westminster, where Conservative Campaign Headquarters is located, is usually busy with overseas visitors. Enough is enough, the party bosses appear to have concluded. Time to put some messaging out to scare them off.

The capital, according to the Conservatives’ new social media campaign, “has become a crime capital of the world”.

A video put out by the ruling party paints a chilling picture of the city: “Gripped by the tendrils of rising crime, London’s citizens stay inside. The streets are quiet. Quieter at night now than they used to be.”

Who is responsible for this alarming state of affairs? The Labour Party, apparently.

The video warns: “A 54 per cent increase in knife crime since the Labour mayor seized power has the metropolis teetering on the brink of chaos.

“For people living life under Labour, like the citizens of London, the scales of justice remain tipped in favour of the darkness.”

The nation’s other big cities should also be given a wide berth, according to the Conservatives. The ruling party warns of “rotting rubbish” and “boarded-up buildings” in Birmingham.

Further north, anyone contemplating a trip to Manchester should know it has been branded “the worst city in Europe for eco-friendly transport”. It has, the Conservatives say: “Almost no electric shared cars, negligible electric buses, poor charging infrastructure and hardly anyone even has a pushbike.”

The UK, then, looks well on the way to being a failed state, and well worth avoiding. Surely it can’t be that, with local and national elections approaching, the ruling party will say anything to try to win votes – regardless of the economic consequences and damage to our reputation?

“Have you utterly lost the plot?” So asks London’s tourism recovery board co-chair Bernard Donoghue. “This is a wonderful way to mark the end of English Tourism Week,” he continues. “These reckless, alarming, scaremongering lies and trashing of London – we depend on domestic and overseas visitors – is appalling.”

Inbound tourism is the closest that any country, or city, can get to free money. But the government gives the impression of doing all it can to discourage visitors.

The campaign against overseas tourists began in October 2021, when the then-home secretary Priti Patel banned what she called “the use of insecure ID cards for people to enter our country”. This prohibition disenfranchises more than 200 million European Union citizens who have ID cards but not passports from visiting the UK.

The ban has been remarkably successful. The previously healthy inbound tourism from groups of EU schoolchildren, many attending language schools on the south coast, is all but destroyed. Patricia Yates, chief executive of VisitBritain, told MPs: “You will find destinations like Hastings absolutely decimated by a lack of school visits.”

Careful what you say though: the Conservatives might add the Sussex seaside resort to its list of places to avoid.

“Hastings: absolutely decimated.” That’s one way to stop an invasion.

Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key travel issue – and what it means for you.

Manchester City vs Arsenal LIVE: Premier League score and updates

Manchester City host Arsenal in a Premier League showdown that has major implications for the destiny of this season’s title.

City and Arsenal are locked in a titanic battle with Liverpool to be champions in what is shaping up to the be one of the great title races, and this is the last match between of the three protagonists.

It sees Mikel Arteta come up against the manager who taught him so much during his time coaching at City before leaving for the Arsenal job. Arteta has transformed the Gunners into contenders and a run of eight wins in a row propelled them to the top of the table.

But City have beaten Arsenal at home for the past eight years in a row, and a ninth successive victory at the Etihad would be a major blow to Arteta’s dream of bringing a first league crown to north London for two decades.

Follow all the action from Manchester City vs Arsenal below, and get the latest tips, betting odds and free bets here.

Toddler’s remains discovered by hiker eight months after he vanished

The remains of a toddler who vanished from a tiny French hamlet eight months ago have been found, according to local prosecutors.

Emile Soleil, aged 2, vanished from a family reunion in Le Vernet – a small village in the Alpes-des-Haute-Provence with around 125 residents– on 8 July last year.

The toddler’s disappearance sparked a huge manhunt involving drones, sniffer dogs and helicopters.

According to BFMTV, a hiker discovered some remains on Saturday. Searches are continuing.

The mayor of Vernet, François Balique, told Le Figaro that the area in which Emile’s bones were discovered was being “excavated”.

“It is a place where hunters and their dogs and residents pass daily and where forestry work was carried out in the autumn,” he said.

On Sunday, the Aix-en-Provence public prosecutor announced the development in a statement. It read: “On March 30, 2024, the national gendarmerie was informed of the discovery of bones near the hamlet Vernet.

“The investigators took possession of the bones and immediately transported them to the IRCGN in order to carry out genetic identification analyses which made it possible to conclude on March 31 that they were the bones of the child Emile Soleil.

“Under the direction of the investigating magistrates, the IRCGN is continuing criminalistic analyses of the bones and the national gendarmerie is dedicated to deploying resources to undertake additional research in the geographical area where they were found.”

The Facebook group “Pray for Emile” where Emile’s mother regularly posted calls for prayer to find her little boy – was flooded with tributes for the boy.

One wrote: “Thinking of you in this painful ordeal. May God welcome your little Émile in his paradise where love and kindness reign. May he support you in these times, lots of courage and love for you, and your entire family.”

Another added: “My prayers are with you on this day and those that follow.”

Emile’s family lives in Marseille and he was on holiday at his maternal grandparents’ home at the time of his disappearance. Police said at least 10 people were present at the property for a family reunion.

The family was due to leave for a hiking outing, and Emile’s grandparents noticed he was missing when they went to put him in the car.

Emile was reportedly seen by two people when he left their home but they “lost sight of him”. Described as 3ft tall, with brown eyes and blond hair, Emile was wearing a yellow T-shirt, white shorts with a green pattern and walking shoes when he disappeared.

Police issued an appeal for information about Emile on 9 July and launched an extensive search operation in Le Vernet, aided by nearly 500 volunteers.

On 13 July, the search was called off and investigators admitted they had “no clue” what had happened to Emile.

Political parties must say no to donations from rich benefactors

Openness is the first defence against corruption. In a liberal democracy, people should be free to give money to political causes that they support. That means there is a danger that rich people will seek to use donations to secure advantages from parties in government. Which is why laws requiring the disclosure of donations are so necessary.

It is surprising, looking back, that it was not until the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 that parties were required to publish the amounts of donations they received and the names of donors. Before then, the Conservative Party – the main recipient of large private donations – thought it was fine to accept donations in secret, including from abroad.

It is equally surprising that when the Labour government brought in this law, it left a loophole, in that loans did not have to be declared – and it took advantage of this loophole in raising money for its 2005 election campaign. Neither main party has a monopoly of virtue on this subject.

Will Tory failure to help renters cost them even more votes?

The Renters (Reform) Bill is becoming a landlords’ charter, according to campaigners for the rights of tenants in the private rented sector. Michael Gove, the housing secretary, has written to Conservative MPs announcing changes to the bill to “bolster landlord protections” in the hope that these will overcome the resistance to the planned law.

The revised bill started its parliamentary passage in the House of Lords this week and will come before the Commons after the Easter recess.

The bill had been delayed by the threat from a group of pro-landlord Tory MPs to vote against it. They argued that the abolition of “no-fault” evictions would tilt the balance too much in favour of tenants and make private renting uneconomic for landlords, forcing them to sell.