Diary

ConHome Diary: Some Advice for DD, The Rise of Penny Mordaunt & Henry Boltonski

9 Mar 2018 at 13:34

Henry Bolton announced on Wednesday that he was starting a new political party called ONE NATION. Better than EIN VOLK, I suppose. It was a pretty amateurish start, given that his logo was low res, the ‘1’ inside the ‘O’ in ‘One’ was off centre and the website was unsearchable on Google. It got worse. I invited him to come on my LBC show only for him to tell me that much as he’d love to, he’d already committed to give his first exclusive interview to Russia Today. Well that tells us all we need to know, doesn’t it.
Yesterday we learned that UKIP needs to find £100,000 by the end of the month otherwise they will go bust. Bolton left them with quite a mess to clear up, didn’t he. It would be easy to come up with a conspiracy theory about this shambles, and several have. The most entertaining is that given Henry Bolton used to be a LibDem member, he was a LibDem plant. Obviously preposterous. I suspect we’ll hear some rather more serious allegations over the coming weeks.

Theresa May’s biggest strength has been the lack of a serious alternative to her leadership. I still think that she will still be PM at the end of the year, partly because of the non-emergence of any serious contender. Michael Gove, I’d say, would probably be the ‘under the bus’ candidate at the moment, but it is now up to other cabinet ministers to put in good performances and therefore be seen as possible successors. One cabinet minister who has had a ‘good war’ in the last few months is the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt. Her handling of the Oxfam scandal was exemplary. She had a strategy, a firm position and was articulate in explaining it. One to watch, I’d say.
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So the British Communist Party says it will support Jeremy Corbyn and not stand candidates against Labour. Well knock me out with a frozen leg of pork…
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The Draft EU Negotiating Guidelines are a disgrace. They offer literally nothing to negotiate on. Their way or the highway is the message they’re clearly intent on sending. If I were advising David Davis I’d be advising him to make a very robust response, along the lines of ‘come back to us when you’ve got something sensible to say’. At some stage their bluff needs to be called. We’re not Greece, and we’re not going to be treated like Greece.
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On Wednesday I interviewed Marina Litvenenko on my radio show, following the poisoning incident in Salisbury. I am always aware that for her, whenever there something like this happens, it must bring back all the pain of what happened to her husband Alexander. At the time of writing, we don’t know exactly what happened but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Russian state involvement is highly probable. Given that Mr Skirpal’s wife and son were both killed in separate car crashes in Russia, and the fact that there have been at least 14 killings of Russian nationals on British soil in the last few years, you’d have to try very hard to think of an alternative explanation. The big question is that if it’s proven that there is Russian state involvement in this incident, what does the UK do about it? Answers on a postcard to the Foreign Secretary, please.
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On Wednesday it was announced by CNN that CNNTalk, the show I appear on at midday on Mondays and Fridays is going 5 days a week. Obviously, I’m delighted that CNN think the programme has been such a success, but I am greatly amused by some of the comments on Twitter. Some nutters really do believe that because I appear on a CNN programme I must be told what to say. Others ask how I can work for such a network, which Donald Trump delights in dubbing the home of fake news. Very easily, and I am proud to do so. Their coverage of international affairs is unrivalled and they have a superb team of highly professional and often brave journalists. I became addicted to watching CNN during the first Gulf War, and if you’d told me then that 25 years later I’d be part of one of their most highly rated shows, I’d have never believed you. It’s a simple format in many way – half an hour’s discussion on one topic between three people – me, Ayesha Hazarika and Liam Halligan – who clearly like and respect each other but aren’t afraid to mix it when necessary, with a host – Max Foster – who knows when to just let us get on with it. For the next two weeks, because of the time difference with the US, we’re on at 11am on CNN International or you can stream on their Facebook Live page but at the end of the month we revert to our normal time of 12 noon. If you’ve never watched, give it a try – channel 506 on Sky.

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