Diary

ConHome Diary: The Weasel Words of David Gauke, Theresa's Great Fortnight & Oblivion Beckons for UKIP

30 Mar 2018 at 13:32

I’m afraid David Gauke’s weasel excuses for not himself launching a judicial review on the John Worboys case just won’t wash. It should never have been left to two of his victims to have to bring the case, and no amount of wriggling on the part of the Justice Secretary will change that. Sometimes politicians have to lay the law down to their civil servants and advisors, even if political risk is involved. If the victims could win a judicial review then I’m damned sure the Justice Secretary could have if he and his department had deployed the correct arguments. On the day that the victims launched their crowdfunding appeal listeners on my show raised a five figure sum. One of the victims messaged me on Wednesday, following the verdict, to say that without us doing that they could never have launched the appeal. I am proud to have played a part in enabling them to go ahead, but I am ashamed that the system let them down so badly. It’s now up to David Gauke to put that right. And quickly.
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Ukip really does have a deathwish. This week they drew up the rules of their latest leadership election. They make for interesting reading, especially through the prism of ensuring that only candidates unpopular with the electorate will be able to stand. Each candidate must put down a deposit of a whopping £7,000, and must have either served as an MEP or stood for Parliament, and have continuous party membership of at least five years. Well that rules out Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn. Which I imagine was the point.
Betway have already closed the betting on the contest and have made acting leader Gerard Batten the favourite. He’s been largely anonymous since taking over the post, possibly because he has had to concentrate on rescuing the party’s finances. It’s entirely possible the party could be bankrupt by the time voting closes, given they have to find £170,000 to pay to the High Court over a disastrous libel action brought by one of their MEPs Jane Collins against three Labour MPs.
So what happens if Gerard Batten wins? To quote the famous song, the only way is up. The party is down to 1% in the polls and is likely to lose very single councillor it won back at its high watermark in 2014. If Batten is to make any headway surely he has to do things. First, abandon the anti muslim obsessiveness. Second, sack the odious Alan Craig, who was laughably appointed as Education and Family spokesman. The man is a Christian fundamentalist who has a record of religious bigotry and believes in gay cure therapy. I know several people who have left UKIP following his appointment. I hope there are many more who will follow.
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I can’t say I am surprised that Mark Zuckerburg has turned down the DCMS Select Committee’s invitation to appear before them. If you write a rudely worded letter to someone, don’t be surprised if they give you middle finger.
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I doubt there are many people who can deny that Theresa May has had her best fortnight in her time as Prime Minister. In fact, it’s so good that it wouldn’t surprise me if, on her walking holiday in north Wales, she decided to call an election. I jest, of course, but had last week’s disastrous election hadn’t happened I suspect there would be a lot of election speculation going on right now. She’s secured the Brexit deal a lot of people predicted could never happen, and she’s show real leadership in her reaction against the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Her diplomatic skills have been on display for all to see. For nearly 30 countries to expel Russian spies is unprecedented, and it is almost entirely due to the way Theresa May had led Britain’s diplomatic efforts. The Foreign Office deserve a lot of praise too. Nick Boles tweeted about the fact that in January he went on record criticising the prime minister for a lack of domestic policy agenda and for a lack of ‘grip’. On Tuesday he followed that up by declaring he was now satisfied that a firm grip was on the tiller and domestic policy ws firmly back on the agenda. Long may it continue.
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Alex Salmond’s RT show goes from bad to worse. I’ve just had a press release to inform me that his star guest this week is Lembit Opik. Need I say more. The sooner this sorry show is pulled from the RT schedule the better. It will leave Alex time to try to recover his reputation. To take the Kremlin rouble at this time is simply unforgiveable. In other times we’d have dubbed him ‘Lord Haw Haw’. I hope any Conservative MP who features on this channel in future will face deselection from their local party. All they achieve is to give succour and support to a rogue state. A state which is fast becoming an enemy state.
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I was going to write a vicious denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to anti-semitism and explain why he’s not fit to be Prime Minister. But why bother. He’s done it so well himself.
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If you live near Bath I’ll be appearing at the Bath Festival with Jacqui Smith, where we’re recording a live edition of our FOR THE MANY podcast. It’s at 11am on Sunday 20 May. Do visit the festival website if you’d like to come to see us.

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