Barack Obama has abandoned an early campaign pledge to use only public funding to finance his presidential run if his opponent made the same pledge. Although John McCain did make that commitment, Mr Obama has ditched his promise because he is raising so much more money than his rival. Some fear this marks the beginning of a raft of shifts.

In a subtle shift of emphasis, Barack Obama last night surprised supporters by declaring himself white for the duration of the presidential campaign.

Campaign strategists accepted that the shift did seem at variance with his earlier campaign position but said they had to accept the reality of politics today and argued he would be giving up a significant electoral advantage if he denied his Aryan roots. There was clear evidence that some voters were alienated by a black candidate and that to campaign as one therefore risked losing, and letting down the black community that would be empowered by his victory.

One senior aide said that this was in fact a pioneering form of the “new politics” Mr Obama had championed because he was using the tired, outdated and cynical old politics to secure the victory that would then allow him to usher in the new politics. He denied that this move left him open to charges of being a phoney, because his was “a change we could believe in”.

Mr Obama’s move was welcomed by liberal commentators, who said it showed the Democrats had picked a winner this time. While they would have preferred him to have remained a black candidate, they said the change showed him to be a true idealist who would not let the old style of politics prevent him from bringing the change America needed.

There was more surprise at his decision to reclassify himself as a Republican. Mr Obama had initially campaigned as a Democrat, committed to big government, higher taxes and a woman’s right to choose.

However, campaign aides said his determination to run a 50-state strategy made the switch imperative. Polling had shown definitively that his numbers increased sharply if voters thought he was also a southern Republican as well.

Liberal commentators applauded the move, saying it showed the Democrats had picked a winner this time.

Others were shaken by his decision to join the National Rifle Association, given his earlier remarks about people clinging on to their guns because they were “bitter”. But aides said he wanted to send a signal that, as part of the new politics, he was reaching out to all citizens, not just those who were already going to vote for him. Liberal commentators said it showed the Democrats had picked a winner this time and that the AK47 was not the preserve of Republicans.

Asked whether the senator could get away with constantly changing his position on issues, liberal commentators replied: “Yes, he can.”

Protecting C4

Channel 4 has again been pressing its case for a slice of licence fee money to help support its public service remit. Last night its evening fare included Location, Location, Location; a film about Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon; Big Brother and Wife Swap USA. The more cerebral More4 offered The Daily Show (funny, but a US import) Kirstie and Phil’s Property Guide and a repeat of Father Ted. E4 had Big Brother and the usual re-runs of Friends. Sometimes there is a documentary, such as Bodyshock: the Boy who Ate his Sister and there is the always excellent Channel 4 News. But what exactly is the public service TV that C4 thinks we should be bilking the licence-fee payers to protect?

Move over, Darling

Gordon Brown’s touching first anniversary gift to Alistair Darling – the man he hand-picked to take the flak for all his mistakes – was a Downing Street assurance that the chancellor was “very secure”. Surely there can have been no stronger statement of support since Oliver Cromwell’s press chief assured citizens that Charles I was “head and shoulders above his rivals”.

Anyone for…

What with Roger Federer’s cardigan, Maria Sharapova’s shorts and Venus Williams’s raincoat, we have already been treated to a vintage Wimbledon. This year’s show has a tennis theme, with a number of the models stepping out in outfits for a quick game, regardless of the weather. Summer cuts have dominated the first few days but the designers are promising some exciting winter collections later in the week.

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