Diary

ConHome Diary: SexChem on Sky News, Why Evan Harris is a Twat & Does Yvette Owe Zac's Team An Apology?

15 Apr 2016 at 13:28

I am a Sky News addict. The channel has some excellent presenters but recently the double headed morning show has become compulsive viewing. Colin Brazier and Jayne Secker have an onscreen chemistry which is quite unique. They are very flirtatious and clearly enjoy working together. Their adlibs are delicious and each of them frequently looks to be on the verge of corpsing. Both are very happily married, but the viewers are often left thinking that they’re watching an episode of ‘Moonlighting’ and asking, ‘will they, won’t they?’ A bit like me and Jacqui Smith!
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The least surprising news of the week came with the announcement that the Electoral Commission chose Vote Leave to be the official ‘Leave’ campaign for the EU Referendum. Their reasoning, I thought, was as hole-ridden as a lump of Emmental. However, if Grassroots Out go ahead with their threat to launch a Judicial Review history may not forgive them. The task of ‘Outers’ is to come together, unite, and fight the campaign of their lives. The time for internecine warfare is now over. This is a once in a generation opportunity and it cannot be sacrificed on the ego of Arron Banks. Nigel Farage has been making efforts behind the scenes to bring everyone together. Now is the time for everyone to respond and take part in a group hug. Vote Leave should embrace Farage as he reaches parts of the electorate that none of their main leaders do or can.
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The sight of the ludicrous Evan Harris touring the studios talking about John Whittingdale has been a sight to behold. Hacked Off have shown their true colours. They appear to be against any intrusion in a politician’s private life unless of course that politician is a Tory minister. What utter shits. Their complaint seems to be that he might be influenced by newspapers who allegedly did him a favour by not publishing a story about him having a relationship with someone described as a ‘Dominatrix’. Their position is ridiculous. This six month relationship happened a year before his appointment as Culture Secretary. He was a single man. They have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any of his decisions have been influenced by the position he found himself in in 2013. If they, let them bring it forward. I don’t know how Evan Harris can look himself in the mirror. The question is, when he does, does he see a reflection? Or if he does I imagine he sees the face of a political chancer, despised by every single Liberal Democrat I know, and who seems to have become one of those very sad ex-MPs who spends half their time hanging around the corridors of parliament in a vain effort to remain remotely important or relevant.
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Wednesday started off so well. I was shortlisted for Radio Presenter of the Year. I won the award in 2013, so never expected to be nominated again. But after that the day got decidedly worse. I had taken the day off work because West Ham were playing Manchester United in a 7pm kick off. I decided I’d show willing and embark on a trip to the Tunbridge Wells dump. I started loading piles of old newspapers into the car, but dropped some. I bent down and my phone dropped out of my shirt pocket onto the ground. The screen shattered and the whole phone was unusable. I spent 90 minutes in 9 separate phonecalls to Vodafone to try to get it sorted. The upshot was that I could upgrade at a cost of £350 and get a replacement phone the next day, or I could claim on the insurance (which I hadn’t realised I’d even got) but it would take a week for a replacement to arrive. As I am sure you can imagine, going a week without a phone would be my idea of purgatory. Even for an hour, it felt as if my right arm had been cut off (no jokes please). Anyway, after being told 5 times that Vodafone couldn’t talk to me because my name wasn’t on their computer as an authorised person to talk to, I finally got it sorted, but it would still be a week before I’d get a replacement. By this time, I was already late leaving for Upton Park. All this game me a tremendous feeling of foreboding. I even thought about staying home and watching it on TV. Well, you know the rest. So I forewent my LBC show fee, broke my phone and West Ham were ousted from the FA Cup. Not a good omen for winning the radio award again, when the awards ceremony comes around in May…
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While writing this column I am listening to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on Europe. It’s apparently going to be his only major speech on Europe during the Referendum campaign. I’m not surprised, given that he’s actually as Eurosceptic as me. His current stance on Europe is entirely guided by party management issues. I suspect that in the privacy of the voting booth he may well indeed still vote to leave the EU. If you listened to his speech it was almost entirely a speech about workers’ rights, big business and tax avoiders. The elephant in the room for Corbyn and Labour is something called the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership. This is a fundamentally undemocratic racket designed for global corporations to usurp parliamentary democracy. You can’t be in favour of our continuing membership of the EU without addressing TTIP and its impact on our sovereignty. It’s the dog that hasn’t barked in the referendum campaign so far. But bark it surely must.
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I did the Andrew Marr paper review last Sunday with Polly Toynbee. I know she is a real hate figure for many readers of this site, and believe me, many of her views repel me too. However, on a personal level she is rather lovely and we always have a very civilised debate, partly because I can’t bring myself to go in for the kill. On Sunday, though, she brought up the subject of housing and how difficult it is for young people to get on the housing ladder. Quick as a flash I responded by saying that seeing as Polly and I were both second home owners we were part of the problem. She moved on quickly to the next story.
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This week Yvette Cooper hit the headlines for accusing Zac Goldsmith of running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan. That’s a pretty serious accusation. In her article for The Times Red Box site she said: “What started as a subtle dog-whistle is becoming a full blown racist scream”. As evidence, she says: “They’ve sent leaflets to British Hindus with the outrageous claim that Sadiq wants to take their family jewellery.” Were that the case, she might have a point. Except it isn’t. The leaflet Yvette complains about actually contained this sentence: “Labour will impose a wealth tax on family jewellery”. That is something quite different. She also said it was very wrong for Zac to continually attack Sadiq over his alleged links to extremists. In an interview with me later in the day Yvette appeared to exonerate Zac Goldsmith himself for any racist motives, but instead blamed his campaign team, effectively labelling them as racist. It was, she said, all the fault of the ‘wicked’ Lynton Crosby. Well so far as I know Lynton isn’t involved in the campaign, but what I do know is that many people who are involved in running his campaign are friends of mine. And what I also know is that there isn’t a racist bone in any of their bodies. To accuse someone of racism or racist motives is a big thing, especially when the evidence is somewhat light to say the least. I think Yvette owes several people an apology.

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