Oh to be a member of the non-political classes. I was at a dinner party over
the weekend and was asked what I made of the candidates in the Tory
leadership contest. I started to talk about David Davis when someone
piped up: "Isn't he that religious nutter who used to present Grandstand?"
Collapse of entire dinner party, although it shows what
he's up against if Mr Davis has to contend with people thinking that not
only does he run the Football Association but he's also David Icke,!
The perils of live broadcasting. One of my pleasures in life is to get up at 6.30am
one Sunday a month to review the papers on BBC London Live. This week it all went rather awry. Just as I had started to talk about Gyles Brandreth’s Sunday Telegraph article about gays in the Tory Party the microphones failed, so I ended up running round to the presenters mic talking about closet case Tories on my knees. How appropriate, some might say…
It was so nice to see Robin Cook wandering along the Mall the other day with his twin pet pooches and pooper scooper in his pocket - at least, I think it was a pooper scooper. Obviously he’s a bit out of practice as was seen untangling the dogs’ leads twice within a few yards. From the knotted problems of the Middle East peace talks to the knotted problem of untangling dog leads. What a comedown.
Aficionados of that cult TV drama A Very British Coup will be surprised and disappointed that its author, the affable MP for Sunderland South and defender of the Guildford Four Chris Mullin, has allowed himself to be censored in its recently published paperback reissue. Apparently Mullin insisted on replacing the word ‘motherfuckers’ with the more anodyne ‘nincompoops’ to describe the CIA. I can gladly report that Mr Mullin’s time as a New Labour Minister has not rendered him part of the establishment after all. The truth is that his mother complained about the word in the original edition and so to please his mother he changed it. Altogether now, aaaahhh.
I was rather astonished to see Michael Ancram launch his leadership campaign at the Soho offices of the Tories’ advertising agency Yellow M. Surely a conflict of interest if ever there was one. After all, it was Ancram who hired them in the first place. Ancram’s campaign has got off to a somewhat shaky start with his campaign manager Adam Newton departing this week on holiday, a mere five days after his candidature was announced. Mind you, having spent two years as Press Adviser to that bundle of energy Ann Widdecombe, if anybody needs a break it’s him.
Rumours that Ancram is being supported surreptitiously by William Hague would appear somewhat wide of the mark. Jo-Anne Nadler’s biography of Hague reports an exchange between Hague and a policy adviser at the time of Ancram’s appointment as Party Chairman. “You do realise he’s a complete chump, don’t you?” asks the adviser. “He’s very solid.” Replied Hague. Only that’s not quite the whole truth. In the original manuscript the words ‘yes, I know, but’ appeared at the beginning of Hague’s answer. Mysteriously they disappeared from the final version.
Well done to Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Regents Park & Kensington North who has struck a blow for the power of the backbencher. In the reshuffle she was promoted to the post of junior whip, but as she was away at the time no one told her. The announcement went out but to her credit when she found out she told the PM she was having none of it, viewing her role as a constituency MP as more important. It’s nice to see at least one member of the House of Commons not intent on climbing the greasy pole and taking her role as a parliamentarian seriously.
How wonderful to spot New Labour’s pollster-extraordinaire Philip Gould emerging from the County Hall Health Club this morning. I’m not sure what a focus group would make of his flustered but radiant appearance, but I was told that the ladies who breakfast there were most impressed by the effects of his workout. Alastair Campbell’s place in Lauren Booth’s affections may soon be under threat if these workouts continue to have such a stunning effect on Mr Gould’s body beautiful. He should be so lucky.