ConservativeHome Diary Week 6: Who Are The Harlots of British Politics?

19 May 2013 at 10:25

Back in 2009 I published Nigel Farage’s autobiography. Not a single bookshop chain would stock it. Booksellers have always been of a leftish persuasion and they proved impossible to shift. In late 2011 we published an updated version, called Flying Free, which contained three added chapters, including the full story of his plan crash on election day. He had also regained the leadership of UKIP, but Waterstone’s still weren’t interested. Of all the books I have published, this book has sold the highest per centage on Amazon, largely because bookshops wouldn’t stock it. However, out of the blue last week Waterstone’s have placed a large order and you should now find the book in most of their stores. Even they can now see very clearly which way the wind is blowing. I emailed Nigel to tell him the good news and he replied by saying: “Thank you for the good news. You are now represented by a UKIP councillor.” Which indeed, I am. I will leave it to your imagination to guess which one of the three members of the Dale household helped bring that about.

Unfortunately I missed the party of the week, held in David Davis’s office. I was too busy not winning a Sony Radio Award. The bash was imaginatively titled “the Return of the Prodigal Daughter Party”, and it was to welcome Nadine Dorries back into the fold. Quite unbelievably, people in Number 10 tried their best to ensure a non-attendance from the 2010 intake by making veiled threats like “remember there’s a reshuffle coming up” and the like. They even called a meeting of backbenchers in Number 10 to try to scupper the attendance. Perhaps they should take a leaf out of David Davis’s book and embrace sinners that repent. I well remember the day in October 2005 when Nadine, who had been one of David’s proposers in the first round, came down to his office to tell him face to face she was supporting Cameron in the second round. At least she had the courage to do it to his face, unlike one of her female contemporaries who decided to announce it on the World at One. I remember ringing her and saying it might have been nice to tell David himself before she went on the media. “Oh, really?” she said, it clearly never having crossed her mind. She quickly sent a handwritten note down. I threw it in the bin.

Talking of the “Prodical Daughter”, as she shall henceforth be known, it is very interesting to compare her fortunes over suggesting Tory MPs stand on a joint ticket at the next election, to that of the rising star Nicholas Boles. In his book Which Way’s Up he suggested that at the next election Tory MPs should, in some circumstances stand on a join Conservative/LibDem ticket. Nadine has now suggested that they should stand on a Conservative/UKIP ticket. Nick Boles was promoted, while the usual Tory sources treat Nadine with derision. It is perfectly easy to argue a political case against what Nadine is suggesting (something I have to say I don’t agree with any more than I agreed with Nick Boles), but what is not acceptable is this idea that anything Nadine says or suggests should be dismissed as something coming from a dippy woman.

Have you ever read a column in a newspaper and thought “Damn, I wish I had written that?” I had that moment on Wednesday morning when I read Iain Martin’s Telegraph column “Cameron and his party conspire to create a Euro shambles”. It encapsulated the very thoughts I was too inarticulate to put down on paper. I would truly love to know what the Prime Minister’s real view on Europe is, because after the last few days I am buggered if I know. I would have thought he would have learned from the Major years, but it appears not. John Major’s view was shaped by whatever was said by whoever spoke to him most recently. One moment he was the “most Eurosceptic member of the Cabinet”, the next he wanted to be at heart of Europe. Time to choose, Prime Minister. No one respects someone whose main aim on this issue seems to be to follow public opinion rather than lead it.

Quelle surprise that the BBC has appointed a Guardianista, Ian Katz, to be the new editor of Newsnight. Employing its former political correspondent clearly wasn’t enough for them. What Andrew Marr called the BBC’s ‘liberal mindset’ is clearly alive and well in Broadcasting House. It’s an odd appointment in many ways as Katz has absolutely no experience of working in television. He’s actually a very nice guy and in my experience isn’t particularly lefty and I wish him well. He certainly leaves a hole at The Guardian. Perhaps they might dare to promote a woman to replace him. That would be a first.

The LibDems have always been the harlots of British politics but their stance on a European referendum really has to come under closer scrutiny. They try to pretend that their policy of offering an In/Out referendum was always linked to some dramatic power push by Brussels. No it wasn’t. It was independent of any treaty change. The leaflet that Edward Leigh held up at PMQs was clear. No mention of treaty change. Clegg tried to wriggle out of it, but no reasonable person could interpret their words in any other way than I have. “Only a referendum on British membership of the EU will let the people decide out country’s future.” It continues “Labour don’t want the people to have their say.” No change there then. And this is the next sentence: “The Conservatives only support a limited referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Why won’t they give the people a say in a real referendum?” That’s about as clear as it can be. And it’s why Cameron should have used government time to put his Draft Referendum Bill to Parliament in government time. It would have flushed out the LibDems and also put Ed Miliband in a quandary. But once again the children in Downing Street have flunked it.