I was trying to find a database file on my laptop earlier, and stumbled across a Word file called ‘Diary’ from November 2002. I opened it out of curiosity and found 7,000 words from a diary I clearly kept over six weeks from the autumn of that year. Suffice to say, it brought back a few memories. Some good. Some not so good. It is very gossipy and very personal. I’ve reprinted it here but have taken out some of the more salacious and hugely personal bits. I’ve left in all the political stuff. Well, nearly all. This period covers the time when I first got on the Tory approved candidates list and was wrestling with how to reveal my sexuality to my parents and friends. There’s quite a bit on David Davis and some diary-tastic anecdotes (are you reading this, Grant Tucker?) including a fantastic one following Theresa May’s ‘nasty party’ speech at the 2002 party conference.
October 12 2002
Well, here goes. I really doubt if I have the self discipline to keep up writing a diary, but I’m going to try. Famous last words. I write this watching England lose again to a small team. Slovakia. Heskey is such a lump. Feeling a bit jaded after three weeks away at the conferences. And with last weekend’s bombshell [I don’t remember what this was!] from John I feel as if I have been treading on eggshells a bit. Told me I was becoming very high and mighty again and that he could never finish a conversation with me as I would take a phone call in the middle of it. Promised to behave better in future, but it does all make me wonder what will happen if my political career takes off. He really has no interest in it at all and I don’t think understands the time I will have to devote to it or the pressures involved. Spoke to Gillian [Shephard] today and although I didn’t mention any of this to her she said she wants to have lunch with John on her own. I think she realises what’s in store for him.
Bournemouth has been a trial in more ways than one. Ann Widdecombe decided to perch herself on our [bookshop] stand for virtually the whole time. For book sales it was great, but she nearly drove me mad with her sales technique of almost forcing people to buy a book they never wanted. Still, we sold loads of books so why should I complain. Got a lot of press coverage because of it too.
I really do feel sorry for Edwina though. I’ve always had a sneaking liking for her even though we had a falling out over Maggie’s downfall in 1990. She rang me last Friday and we had a good talk about the book. She wants us to hold an event in November. Hmmm. Not sure it would work. We’ll see. Although I have told the truth about how much her book has sold, I do feel a bit of a shit. Suppose I could have lied. But even when we knocked £5 off the price we only sold 1 more copy. John Berry rang from the Frankfurt Book Fair to say that we have been offered her Three Line Quips book to republish. Apparently it has a foreword from John Major! She was asked to get someone famous to write a foreword and said “I’ll get John Major – he’ll do anything for me”. Indeed!
Naturally I gave this to a couple of diary people and Simon Hoggart has used it today quoting me. Hope she doesn’t read it. I think the future might be a bit bleak for Mrs C. I guess 5 Live will fire her in the end. It’s a pity that she’ll only be remembered as the egg woman and the woman who shagged the PM. Still, at least she will get a footnote in history, which is more than the rest of us will manage, I guess.
Horrible day outside. Got to drive up to the BBC later. News 24 Paper Review. Why do I do this? 150 miles for £100 and the glory of being on TV. Must be bad, mad, or just vain. Probably all three.
Going back to John, it’s just as well he gives me a kick up the backside from time to time. I don’t mean to take him for granted, but I know I do. We’ve been together for 7 years and on the face of it have zilch in common, yet we have rarely had a falling out and have never had a serious row. I don’t know many couples who could say that. I do love him, and I know he loves me back. But is that enough for him? I can’t be someone I’m not, and although I know he doesn’t expect me to be, I do sometimes wonder if I can do anything right. I doubt I’m alone in that.
The conference was a strange affair. DD made a singularly lacklustre speech. Content all over the place and delivery poor. Stumbled over a few lines and missed clap lines. Told him so. Don’t think I was the only one. Nick Herbert chickened out, I think. I’ve always liked him and he has many assets but I wonder if he as good at speech-writing as DD thinks he is. He’s used Robin Harris on this, but to what effect. I have never felt any good at speech-writing but I might try to contribute a few lines in future. But despite the speech DD got a good writeup in the press.
IDS still floundering around and his speech was funeral to say the least. The Quiet man bit may well come back to haunt him. Had dinner on Wednesday with DD and Eric Forth and [his wife] Carol. She’s a character. American, and totally devoted to Eric. Eric ploughs his own furrow in the Shad Cab and is obviously unimpressed with events. Will probably be sacked in next reshuffle and he knows it. I do like him.
Made it my business to speak to Christina Dykes and Trish Morris about the Candidates [list] application. Hope things might move soon. Should have made more of a nuisance of myself before now. Stupid boy. Still filled with dread at the possible consequences of all this. Just hope Mum and Dad can accept it. I know Mum will be horrified at everybody “knowing” [my sexuality], but I have to live my own life. Timing is important here. Feel I can’t say anything until she has had her latest op, because all she’ll think about while she’s in hospital is me. Don’t want that.
Sunday 13 October
News 24 went OK. Was on with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Always used to think she had a few too many chips on her shoulder, but I rather like her now. She’s got an infectious giggle. Made the mistake of telling her I would pick a fight with her over lottery money to asylum seekers. She, of course, came out with sweet reason so I felt a bit bad when I went on and did by Right wing bit. She called me a Right Wing Bag, which was very funny indeed.
Today slobbed out at home. Spoke to DD who saw me last night. Obviously rather ticked at MoS coverage of The Movement. Wonder how he is preparing for the Benn debate tomorrow. I pray he performs better than he did last week. He can’t afford to get a reputation as a crap speaker. Not sure how deeply to immerse myself in this. Gillian knows a speech trainer so I may get her details. Best to keep Gillian’s name out of it, though, I guess.
John had a phone-call from the woman who owns the place where our bookstore shed is in Pembury, She wants to sell up. I told him he should go for it. It’s a 5 bed house with ten or eleven acres and outbuildings and would cost £XXXk. We could do it if his parents came in too. The house has an annex I think. Renting out the outbuildings would be a good little business for him. If I become an MP he will need something like this. It worries me that he doesn’t know what to expect. Must get him to lunch with Gillian. Sort of dreading tomorrow. I know the next 3 months at work are going to be awful. Money, contracts, rent. Boredom. All the things I hate. Still, at least I suppose it will sort things out one way or the other.
Just been reading Alan Clark’s diaries. He constantly worries about money, despite having shedloads of it. At least I worry for good reason! I have never, ever had loads of money, even when I seemed to be earning it at Waterfront. I finished on £60k, but still never seemed to have two beans to rub together. Story of my life. Easy come, easy go.
Tuesday 14 October
Bloody hell. Yesterday was a day and a half. Went into work expecting a rather dull day of catch up after the conferences but at 11am came a phone call. ‘Central Office on the line. It’s urgent’. They only asked me to go immediately over to the St Ermines Hotel to do a Parliamentary Selection Board! So off I tootled. 16 of us there but the others had already started doing some psychometric tests. So I waited and gossiped with Trish Morris. The first task was to do a personality test – about 60 statements of the “I often feel sad” variety, Soon polished that off and then onto a prioritising task. We had to pretend we were MPs (if only…) and had eight things we had to rank in order of priority and then explain why. Think I did well on that.
Then onto a one to one public speaking task – a tad artificial if you ask me. When on earth would you only speak in front of one person. I was given ‘Estelle Morris’s record’ as my topic. Did Ok but didn’t shine. I should have done better on that. Then an interview with Peter Waine, some bigshot in London Conservatives. Actually rather enjoyed it and was very fluent and answered his questions well.
Then onto a group exercise with four others. Each had to pretend we were MPs in neighbouring constituencies and argue it out over sharing one Agent between us. I represented a marginal so argued I should have 2 of the 5 days. Remarkably they agreed, Did I look that threatening?! Then, to my horror I re-read my briefing paper and discovered I had to get two and a half. But luckily someone else blurted out they had just read the same thing, so I assume everyone had that. The assessors were Peter Waine and Patrick Mercer MP. I had met Patrick at a wedding in Newark a couple of years ago, and once since, but he immediately said when we shook hands: “I don’t think we’ve met”. I wondered whether this was really true or if he was deliberately saying it, as the assessors are not supposed to know the candidates. Anyway I think I emerged as the group leader, but not in a dominating way. Hmmm. I wonder.
Then finally, I had to sit the psychometric tests on my own. Felt like detention! 80 questions in 40 minutes. Bloody difficult too. You really had to think carefully about each one. And that was it!
I really hope I have done enough to get on. If they diss me I am going to be very embarrassed at having failed. I have to say the other seven in my group were all completely useless. A nice lady who would sink without trace in Parliament, an Asian guy who struggled to make himself understood and five faceless over 55 year olds. Is this what the Tory Party has been reduced to?
Anyway, got back to the shop at about 5 and hurriedly filled in my application form for Bournemouth East. Whizzed it round to CCO on the way to the Royal Festival Hall for the Tony Benn/David Davis debate. David did well, although he was on a hiding to nothing against the wily old Benn. 1,400 people there. And they say there is no interest in politics anymore. Got home at 11.45 to find John in a foul mood. Apparently, my crime had been not to phone when I said I would. I managed to keep my temper. Does he not realise what a pressurised day I have had? And all because he went to look at the House where we have our shed at Pembury and wanted to arrange a meeting with a financial adviser. Well I’m bloody sorry. I would have thought he might have realised how important that PAB [Parliamentary Assessment Board] was to me. Maybe not.
Anyway, today was a little easier. Series of local radio interviews promoting the second edition of the ‘Tony Blair Joke Book’.
Still no word from CCO by the end of today. All sorts of things are running through my mind. I can’t believe they will have failed me, but I keep thinking about the loss of face if they have. God what an awful thought.
Wednesday 16 October
My political career starts here. Just got off the phone to DD who says he met Trish Morris [Head of Candidates] in a corridor today and asked if I had passed the PAB. She said she hadn’t sent the letter out. He said: ‘That’s not what I asked!”. Typical of him! She then told him I had passed. What a relief. I wonder what will happen. Part of me is filled with excitement- but there’s also some anxiety there. I don’t think this is going to be plain sailing at all. But what in life ever is? Wanted to tell Mum and Dad about being gay today. Spent the day there doing the book returns from the conferences. But the moment didn’t arrive. It will need to soon because the papers are bound to want to print something. God, a few people are going to be a bit surprised. Angered. Bewildered. All three? Not looking forward to this part of it. But it’s got to be done so might as well get it over with.
DD told me a great story from the 1922 Committee this evening. Andrew Mackay called Theresa May the Gerald Ratner of the Tory Party! Two other MPs (Andrew Mitchell and? – bugger can’t remember) got up and said that a message should be sent to Norman Tebbit giving him the support of the ’22. Much banging of desks. Portillo then got up to say how much Theresa May and IDS should be congratulated for reaching out to people outside the Tory Party. He sat down to complete silence. The comeback stops here?
Sunday 17 October
Now I know when I started this I told myself I was mad as I wouldn’t have the self discipline to keep it up, but the last few days have been mayhem. Hard work and late nights. Hmm, where to start. Had lunch with Sallie Hendry on Thursday. Can never quite work out when she is being guarded with me about what she says, but today she loosened up a bit. She obviously wants to push Charles forward. Is fed up with him not getting credit for initiatives he has undertaken. He seems a nice guy – but can come across as a bit of a twerp at times. But then, don’t we all? Work was rather dull on Thursday and had to hang around to do News 24. I thought it was appalling but John thought it was one of my better ones. Actually, when I looked at the video it wasn’t as bad as I feared.
John’s come down with the lurgi so didn’t come to work on Friday and hence missed the works outing to ‘Sing a Long a Sound of Music’. Don’t think he was very upset about that! Actually it was vaguely entertaining despite the intro woman who would have been more at home in Blackpool Butlins. It was due to finish at 11.20 but I didn’t want to get the last train home so I left to get the 10.40. Wish I hadn’t bothered. Charing X was closed due to a bomb scare. Eventually made it to London Bridge but the train didn’t leave till 11.30 so I might as well have stayed t the end of the show. Apparently someone had been sick in the driver’s cab. How on earth did they get in? Do they not lock them? Jesus.
Ed Vaizey came to see me about the Blue Books. Kind of cute in a slightly lard-arse sort of way. He’s going out with Esther McVey – scouse blond bombshell from GMTV. He told me about Dougie Smith’s orgies – Fever Parties they’re called apparently. Swingers. Looked at the website. Bloody Hell! Rang DD who was v intrigued. He’s so straight-laced. Couldn’t decide whether to tell Simon Walters or not, after his attempt to stitch me up a few weeks ago. Phoned him after a while but he didn’t seem that interested. Anyway, then had a brainwave and found that the website is registered to Dr Chris Hames, who’s something to do with the Libertarian Alliance, and apparently great mates with DS. The plot thickens.
Saturday: I got up early, took stuff to the shed. The new house looks different now I know we’re interested in it. I think I could imagine living there. Wonder if it will come off. Filled both cars up with petrol before driving to Ashdon to continue the conference returns. In the evening had an Ann Widdecombe show in Bury St Eds. Mum, Dad and Sheena [sister] came along with eight others. Beautiful little theatre but very offputting to have Mum and Dad in the front row directly in my line of site! Ann had nearly lost her voice, but it went v well. More than 300 there. Getting much more relaxed at these things. Lots of jokey asides which seem to go down well with the punters. Went back to Sheena’s for a drink. Was starving but she had absolutely no food in the house.
Today has been slob day. Had to get up early at Ashdon to leave for Sky, which went well. Slept for an hour when I got back to Tunbridge Wells, then slobbed with papers and soap omnibuses. Bliss.
Monday 21 October
Bit of a nothing day. Spent most of the day doing publishing figure work. Not exactly mind blowing stuff. However, Gyles Brandreth tells me Foyles might be interested in the shop. And with Methuen interested in the Publishing company I wonder what the future holds. Can’t really believe we will get shed loads of money but I suppose you never know. Having a real battle with MM over getting the accounts in order. I can’t believe it is taking so long. I do wonder where I will be this time next year. I really think the next year is make or break as far as my whole career goes.
Had a meeting with Simon Clark this afternoon. The main thing to come out of it is an idea to put to Associated Newspapers about launching a rival to The Spectator. Could be interesting.
John Redwood’s booklaunch this evening was a failure – about 10 people. He’s such a good man – deeply honourable. All he lacks is the human touch to the outside world. I’ve always found him quite entertaining but most people just can’t see beyond the Vulcan. Dentist tomorrow. Another few hundred quid down the drain.
Friday 25 October
Bloody Hell. A four day gap. How on earth will I remember everything! I knew I would find it difficult to keep this up properly. Had lunch yesterday with Jane Mays from the Mail. Ostensibly to sound her out about whether Associated might be interested in launching a rival to the Speccy. This arose out of a talk with Simon Clark on Monday about how we could take the Politico magazine to the next stage. She seemed quite keen, but not sure if anything will come of it. But the funny thing was that I had said to Jane that I had read that the restaurant, Signor Sassi’s was Ulkrika Jonsson’s favourite place. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, who should walk by the table and stop but Ulrike! She looked shagged out to say the least. Shook her hand – and that’s all! The previous night I has been doing the paper review on News 24 and had been instructed not to mention John Leslie’s name. Pathetic. It was on the front of all the papers and yet the BBC daren’t mention him. Honestly. Funny how they were quite happy to report Neil & Christine’s incident last year. Ed Vaizey came out with this line on Fi Glover. Wish I had thought of it. But the paper review went v well.
Had a great time as Estelle Morris had just resigned so I could vent my spleen about her uselessness. Can’t believe how everyone is feeling sorry for her. She admitted she was not up to the job. So what! Before the BBC had been to see West Ham at Loftus Rd with John Parry. Di Canio scored a last minute penalty. The man is like an opera diva.
Spoke to DD for an hour on the phone last night. He’s having a good time. Good performance against Prescott this week in the Commons, in total contrast to IDS at PMQ’s who was again useless. How much longer can this go on? DD said he was put off by some inspired heckling. I said: “What, inspired by you?” He cracked up. Had a very funny conversation about cutting off diplomatic relations with Scotland. He and I have similar views on Scotland. I feel a total foreigner when I go there and am much more at home in the States. So many bloody chips on their shoulders and far more collectivist than the English. You’d never think that it’s the land of Adam Smith.
Last night went to Nick Jones’s leaving do. A proper journalist and it’s true that we won’t see his like again. Andrew Marr made a very good speech, unlike the two BBC suits who were so boring and clearly just going through the motions. Stayed far longer than I had intended. Michael Portillo introduced himself. I’ve met him at least 5 times before but he hadn’t a clue. But he’s stirring again. In the Commons every day this week. Poor deluded fool. They’ll never have him.
Oneword want another 12 programmes next year. Have told them I want a fee now. Also had a bit of a go at Broadcasting House who tried to cancel me for the second time in three weeks. They later retracted. Victory is sweet.
Gyles Brandreth has arranged a meeting with Christopher Foyle. Seeing him next Friday. Wonder what will come of it. I think I have had enough of the shop. Too many petty things are getting to me. I really think I have done as much as I can, and although I would miss it dreadfully, I do think the time is coming to go. Might not have any choice if the rent goes up. Was told that our rates are going up £5k next year. Unbelievable. What do we get for that? Sweet FA. Worked at home today. Well, actually spent most of the day reading Tony Benn’s diaries. Got to interview him for half an hour next Friday. Hugely entertaining book. Far more enjoyable than Alan Clark. But the problem is I fall asleep within 5 pages. But have read more than 120pp so far.
Saturday 26 October
Quiet day at home – didn’t set foot outside the door apart from taking Gio for a walk. Quite why he always has to have a shit in front of other people I really don’t know. As he’s doing it, he looks up at me rather slyly almost saying “see, now you have to pick it up!” Love him to bits.
Spent most of the day continuing with the Tony Benn book. Now half way through. I winder how much interesting stuff he leaves out. There’s quite a lot more personal stuff in this volume. Didn’t get up till 11.30 despite waking up quite early. Managed to doze on and off. Still felt ridiculously guilt. Idiot. Watching Parky as I write this with that vamp Nigella Lawson. She was having an affair while her husband was dieing. Hope he never knew.
On BH with Parky tomorrow. Hope I’m not too starry-eyed. Always thought he was a great broadcaster, although I feel he may now have had his day. He’s a bit too arselicking towards his guests nowadays.
Horrible programme about scandal-ridden Tories this evening. They rang me about going on to talk about the Hamiltons. Having seen the programme I am glad I didn’t. Tabloid television at its worst. How the BBC can justify licence payers money being spent on this I do not know. Bet they don’t do one on Labour scandals.
Starting to think how my life - and indeed John’s - will change if I stand for Parliament. The more I think about it the only point in doing it is to stand in a seat I really think I will win. Why waste 3 years of my life on a dream. There’s got to be something at the end of the rainbow to make the slog worthwhile. Clocks go back tonight. Hope I reset my alarm properly.
Monday 28 October
The alarm went off! Very bad journey to the BBC to do ‘Broadcasting House’ as the wind was about 80mph. Parky was brilliant. What a nice man. Sometimes when you meet famous people they are nothing like you imagine them to be but he was a real pro. Very friendly, no airs and graces. I didn’t say too much but was reasonably fluent and didn’t gabble. That’s my main failing in these things. When I have a subject I don’t know too much about I do have a tendency to gabble on about nothing in particular. I always think it will sound awful, but when I actually play it back it isn’t too bad.
After BH went into the shop for a few hours to do some paperwork then went to West Ham with Jo Phillips. Another home defeat, and a very boring match. No saving graces really. Today the trains were up the spout because of the wind. Both on the way and on the way back. What a bunch of amateurs our railways are. Had a meeting this afternoon with Christina Dykes from the Candidates Dept at CCO. Nice woman. She took me through my candidates Board.
Apparently the assessor in the group exercise thought I dominated too much. You can’t win. If you are shy and retiring you aren’t a leader, yet when you display any kind of leadership, you dominate! Apparently he wrote “the clear leader of the group, although not always pleasantly so!” Obviously I’m a Nasty Party throwback! Couldn’t wait to tell DD as he’s about the only one who will appreciate that! Obviously learnt at the feet of the master…
She seems to think I shouldn’t necessarily go for key marginals. Definitely not getting an interview for Bournemouth East. Slightly disappointed I suppose. Ed V has got an interview. Kinda pleased for him, but wonder what he’s got that I haven’t. Starting to think maybe I ought to go for Norwich North…
Tuesday 29 October
Trains still up the spout. Denis MacShane made Minister for Europe. Ye Gods. If ever there was a candidate for resignation it’s him. Euro mad. Nice chap but totally obsessed by Europe. Still, an indication of Blair’s thinking – assuming he does ever actually think. You sometimes wonder.
Bit of a nothing day really. This evening went to Pepi Simpson’s Macmillan Cancer Relief committee meeting. Went round the table introducing ourselves. Lady this, Lady that, my husband’s in the House of Lords, so’s mine etc. I ended up by saying, “My name’s Iain Dale and my husband doesn’t sit in the House of Lords”. Caused great hilarity.
Sunday 3 November
Oh dear – five days and I have done nothing for the diary. So, quick resume. Wednesday I was supposed to go to Cambridge to see Margaret Thatcher open a new wing of the Churchill Archive Centre where her papers are kept. But as electricity was still off at Hall Farm on Tuesday I decided not to go. Just as well really as Tracey [sister] was there and Philly [niece] had chicken pox. So spent a day at work clearing up various odds and ends. Trains still up the spout all week. Thursday I stayed at home preparing for my Edwina Currie and Tony Benn interviews for ‘Oneword’ on Friday. Never interviewed anyone for half an hour before. In the end they both went very well. I did think maybe Edwina was a little tipsy. Found it difficult to ask Tony about his wife who died of cancer, but he was very good, and quite expansive on the subject.
On Thursday we also went to look at Priory Farm. John parents really liked it. I guess I do too, but I am a little nervous about us all living under one roof. I get on well with them, but living with them is another thing. I just hope they understand that we like time on our own. I quite liked the house even though it is a bit smaller than I had hoped. The main thing going for it is that it gives John a ready income from the rent of the outbuildings. This will be particularly important if we sell Politico’s, as I just cannot see him wanting to get a normal job. The price is £XXXk, which I think may be a little bit of a struggle. While I think The Meads [current home] is probably worth £XXXk, I just wonder if the East Peckham bungalow is really worth £XXXk. If not, that might mean curtains.
Friday lunchtime had lunch with Christopher Foyle and Bill Samuels, his cousin. Quite liked them both. They seem to be quite taken with the idea of acquiring Politico’s, and I think they liked me too. Am I doing the right thing? God only knows. The CPS won’t tell us what the rent will be, so if we stay at Artillery Row we are taking a huge gamble. I just don’t know what the right way forward is. I know I can’t gamble on everything turning out OK. Politico’s gives me the public profile I need to do my media work. Would all that dry up if I left Politico’s behind? I’d give anything to know where I would be by this time next year. Under Waterloo bridge probably!
If I get a candidacy then I suppose that solves it all in some ways and leaves me clear to sell, but I don’t want to get left high and dry.
Saturday went to Hall Farm to finish sorting out the books. More guilt trips from Mum, although I know she doesn’t mean it. The trouble is she succeeds in making me feel guilty. I just don’t know what to do. And Gio bit Dad – twice! Apart from that, he was a model of good behaviour.
DD was on Q Time on Thursday – really needs to be a bit more aggressive…dare I say nasty. He’s just been on On the Record and that was much better.
Thursday November 7th
What a day’s work – especially if your name is Iain Duncan Smith. On Monday I woke up to the news that John Bercow was resigning from the shadow cabinet over the adoption vote, which was a three liner. Mayhem ensued throughout the day. In the end eight MPs voted with the government and a further 30 abstained. Amazing. Of course they were absolutely right, as it should have been a free vote. But whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue, it has developed into yet another IDS leadership crisis.
On Tuesday at about 11 Sky announced he had called a press conference for 12.15. The Right to Buy launch with DD was due to launch was abruptly cancelled. I assumed he was resigning. But no. Instead he just made a 1 minute statement telling people to “Unite or Die”. Ridiculous. Accused people of plotting but didn’t name them. Instead of having the desired effect it just made things worse.
Who one earth advised him to do it. Drove to Malvern with Ann W and she made the point that he didn’t even sound as if he meant it. We discussed the issue of gay adoption, which obviously we disagreed on. She said gays shouldn’t be able to adopt because it was a proven fact that gay relationships only last an average of two years. I immediately responded: “More like 20 minutes in my experience…” To give her her due, she did roar with laughter.
Five hundred at Malvern. Did a show of hands. 60-40 in favour of IDS staying. Hardly a vote of confidence. DD phoned on way back to London and told me what had happened. He was rung at about 10am and IDS said he hoped despite their recent differences that he would have his support. DD said yes, but the briefing against him and his friends must stop. IDS said: “Oh, we know it’s not you behind all this – it’s Clarke and Portillo.” Well why not name them then? The real effect is that he has brought the open warfare out into the open and it will be the end of him.
DD has kept out of it quite well so far. He is now talking of resigning at Xmas. If he does that he’s finished, as I’ve told him. All he needs to do is let events take their course.
Anyway, spent the night at Widders’ house. It was like a furnace. Slept on the bedcovers rather than in them.
On Wednesday had a meeting with Hugo Summerson – used to be my MP in Walthamstow. Now runs a speakers agency. Nice guy. West Ham v Oldham in the evening. Lost to a second division side again. Quite astonishing. I suspect Mr Roeder could be on his way out now. Please God don’t let us have Mick McCarthy, who has just resigned from the Ireland job.
Had a meeting with the bank manager today. All fine. He was even vaguely pleasant. Lunch with Nick Boles. I do like him. About 6’8, which always makes me feel a little inferior, as I’m not used to being with people taller than me. He’s got good ideas, drive and ability.
Christine Hamilton just rang in a blind panic. Couldn’t get her mobile phone off silent. How on earth she expected me to tell her what to do, God only knows.
Sunday 10 November
West Ham 3 Leeds 4. Another defensive disaster. It was 1-4 at half time. Great second half performance, mainly due to Sebastian Schemmel. Dropped in to see Peter Cropper in Tonbridge on the way home to bring him up to date with Politico’s developments. Spent an hour on the phone to Keith [Simpson] when I got home.
Yesterday worked in the shop for the first time in ages. It’s a mess. Will have to remonstrate on Monday. More hassle. Did News 24 with Yasmin. Went well. Played the ‘statesman’ on IDS and Tory troubles. Amazingly I was able to carry it off! Friday played golf with John P and Paul J in the morning. 9 holes. Played OK but it was raining so we called it a day.
Went into town to stock up on DVDs later. Had an early night. DD is ringing twice a day now. I wonder who else he is talking to. Am I becoming his shoulder? Don’t mind at all – in fact I welcome it, but I wonder if I am up to providing the advice he needs. He likes the gossip I give him, but I wonder if he really takes me totally seriously. He is now talking about forming a proper campaign team. Wonder what he wants me to do – press?
Sunday 17 November
Oh dear. A week has gone by.I suppose it doesn’t matter, but I want to do this properly. Not a lot happened this week. Christopher Foyle rang to say they are interested in taking things further with the shop sale. Good news I guess. I wonder how things will pan out. Part of me wonders what I will be doing this time next year. Will everything have fallen apart totally or will I be rising high? Time will tell. West Ham drew 1-1 today with Man U. For some reason I was very hyped up and kept shouting abuse! Defoe scored with 5 mins to go. Excellent performance.
Met Peter Mandelson this week to get him to do a TV series on which I might be series consultant. Exciting! Did LBC this morning and had a rant against the fire strike. Met Andrew Lownie [literary agent] this week to talk about doing a biography of Alan Clark. Probably won’t amount to anything. Busy week ahead.
Monday 25 November
I’m really slacking now. God knows how I will manage this if I ever get to be an MP. I don’t know how to be more disciplined. Anyway, the week went like this…
Monday – lunch with Amanda Platell. Enjoyable and gossipy. She’s very pretty but quite sad in a way – I don’t mean that in a negative way. I think all she wants to find is an idyllic happiness. Wonder how many of us ever find that. In the evening went to Edwina’s thank you dinner. Very odd occasion. Sat with Michael Brown and Matthew Parris. She’s a funny woman. Wouldn’t trust her on many things but I think funnily enough she could be a very loyal friend. Can’t decide if her rather admirable new ex-copper husband wears a toupee or not. If not, he’s certainly got a fine head of hair. She made a little speech and was followed by her daughter Susie who made her – and me – cry. Worked at home on Tuesday and went to Gardners [book wholesalers] too.
Wednesday had lunch at Bank with Alan Duncan. He spent the whole lunch oggling the waiters. Felt vaguely uncomfortable to be honest. Mind you, there was quite some talent to oggle, if I’m honest.
Did News 24 in the evening which was OK. Then travelled up to Ashdon before going up to Norwich on Thursday. Had lunch with Deborah [Slattery] at Sprowston Manor. Couldn’t bring myself to tell her. I think she’s the one who is going to take it badly. Then went to Tim’s [best friend from university, and solicitor] office and back to his house for dinner and the night. Spent the whole evening listening to him and his Mum having right wing rants. Brought back memories. In the morning went to Bertrams [book wholesalers in Norwich] then had lunch with Eve [Collishaw] before dropping in on Ernie and Joan Horth. Then went on to Patrick’s [Thompson, former MP for Norwich North] where I told him and Kathleen about being gay. They said they had already guessed. It was so nice to be there and be made to feel so comfortable about it. They were very supportive about North Norfolk. The more I think about it, it’s the one I want.
Took out an EDP subscription too! Then went to the Simpsons’ for dinner and the night. The Charmleys were there along with a very odd woman called Ruth. Pepi didn’t cook so we had fish and chips! Saturday morning drove to UEA for a careers seminar on careers in politics. 60 students. 7 members of political parties and not a single one listens to 5 Live! A real insipid bunch. Then went back to Ashdon before driving to TW. Sunday lazed about before picking Ann W up to go to Cirencester. 2000 or so. Quite a good one but nothing spectacular. Very foggy on the way home. Did a bit on the Currie show on the M4 hard shoulder!
Today wrote some more of the Foyles document and went to Brighton to talk to a mortgage man about the new farm. Looks like The Meads might be under offer this week.
And thats where it ended. Oh how I wish I had had the discipline to continue. I suppose the blog took over in the end, but of course I could never write half the things above on the blog. Maybe I should start it again now. Just think of the things I could have written over the last few weeks!