It’s interesting that Lynton Crosby is being blamed for virtually everything the government does now – good or bad. This is a good thing. It means that it’s clear that he frightens the living daylights out of the opposition. The latest manifestation of this phenomenon is these billboard vans that are driving round London warning illegal immigrants to go home or face arrest. Personally, I think they are a disgrace, and something Dr Goebbels would approve of, but that’s by the by. Labour blame them on Crosby. It’s highly unlikely he had anything to do with them, but the fact that Labour thinks he did reveals a lot. Last week John McTernan warned Labour that they were wasting energy attacking Crosby. He recommended that instead of attacking him, they should get their own version of him. He asked the very pertinent question: “How do you fight a man with a twelve foot sword? Don’t start with a six foot sword.” It’s unclear whether Wee Dougie Alexander possesses even a three foot sword. But then they say it’s not size that counts.
A friend of mine went to a wedding in Lausanne at the weekend and while she was there had her handbag stolen. The thief thoughtfully left behind her passport, but it’s not the sort of thing you expect to happen in Switzerland, is it? The Swiss police were very helpful and told her it would undoubtedly make the front page of the local paper. ‘Why on earth would they put it on the front page?’ she queried. ‘Because it was the only reported crime in Lausanne that week…’ she was told. Just like home then.
It never rains but it pours. The former Labour MP Denis MacShane, who is up before the beak in a few weeks over expenses charges, got home to his flat in Pimlico earlier this week to find that a careless driver had knocked a wing mirror off his car. But much to his surprise the culprit had kindly left a note with his number on it. MacShane was even more surprised to find out the miscreant’s identity when he called the number the next morning. It was none other than the serial Conservative rebel, Peter Bone MP! Sadly I was unable to find out if Mrs Bone was driving…
Can it be long before China becomes a member of the G8? I suppose then it becomes the G9. In the next few months the Chinese economy will overtake the US in terms of the size of its economy. By 2020 it will be $23 trillion, compared to the US’s £15 billion. China’s economy is 17 times bigger than it was in 1960, but its growth is dwarfed by Thailand’s, whose economy is 22 times bigger than it was in 1960. I wonder if in 2030 Britain will still make it into the G20, let alone the G8.
The High Court has ruled that Jeremy Hunt doesn’t have the power to close the A & E and maternity units at Lewisham Hospital. Well, if he doesn’t, who has?! He is, after all, the Health Secretary. Perhaps this is what politicians mean by taking politics out of NHS. Let’s let judges manage it instead, shall we?
Last week, I took delivery of the manuscript of Damian McBride’s new book, Power Trip. For those who don’t know, my company, Biteback Publishing, is publishing it in late September. I have rarely encountered such high expectations for any book in living memory, with the possible exception of the latest exploits of Harry Potter. “Oh, it’s a shoo in for political book of the year” says one journalist.” Well, that sort of talk always makes a publisher nervous, for there is always a fear that the finished product might be an absolute turkey. Having now read the manuscript, my fevered brow needs no further mopping. I think everyone’s going to be rather entertained. And that’s all I can really say. Because if I tell you any more, I’ll have to shoot you. You see, if I say a single word out of line here, I could jeopardise what ought to be a major newspaper serialisation deal. We have every single paper gagging to see the book. My dilemma is, having got them all to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement, do I sent manuscripts out, or lock them in a room for two hours each. I have to say I am tempted not to do any of that, and ask them to bid blind. That way I can be certain nothing will leak. We’ll see.
Can anyone explain the point of having a Deputy Prime Minister, when that deputy prime minister is not around to deputise? For the second year in a row David Cameron and Nick Clegg are going on holiday at exactly the same time. You’d think with only 20 months of his tenure left, Clegg might want to make the most of his remaining days in power, bless his little cotton socks.
Looking through the European Parliament selection results, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that no one in their right mind bothered to apply for selection. It is a scandal that existing MEPs were more or less automatically reselected at the top of the lists. With very few exceptions, they are a very low calibre lot. But those seeking to replace them don’t inspire much enthusiasm either. Again, there are some exceptions, but is this really the best the Conservative Party can do? And I am afraid I shan’t be voting for Dan Hannan, much as it galls me to say so, as he is one of the few, bright lights among these monochrome candidates. I can’t possibly vote Conservative in a region which has the reprehensible Marta Andreasen on its list. I find it astonishing that she is fourth on the list in the South East. Frankly, I’d rather support Nigel Farage. But I won’t. Luckily I now have another alternative and am registered to vote in Norfolk, so it will be Vicky Ford who will get my vote. I think.
Andrew Kennedy is Tory agent for Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells and Chatham & Aylesford. His blog on the life of a Conservative agent has become compelling reading. This week he has treated us to his Top 5 Things Which Should Never Happen to an Agent. As it’s summer and I have got bugger all else to write about, here they are in full.
Taking Dennis Thatcher back to the railway station after he addressed a fund raising dinner:
“What the f**k is that?”
“It’s my car Mr Thatcher.”
“YOUR car? What the hell is it?”
“It’s a Citroën 2CV Mr Thatcher.”
“Oh! French. That explains it. How far is it to walk?”
At a Kent fundraiser for marginal seats
“Who’s the old duffer talking to Charles Gadd.” Lady sitting at my table: “That’s my husband.”
To an unknown lady who walked into my office, three days before polling day…
“I am sorry, would you mind seeing my Secretary. I am stressed, irritable, physically and emotionally drained, I haven’t slept or eaten for two days, I am hot, every bone in my body aches, I have run out of fags, I’ve got over 20 phone messages to deal with, and if that’s not bad enough, in 30 minutes Angela Rumbold will be turning up and I haven’t a clue who she is or what I am going to do with her.”
Unknown lady: Well, that’s an unusual greeting for a visiting Minister. I’m Angela Rumbold.
At Party Conference in Birmingham and answering a call on my mobile from a friend in Hampshire:
“Andrew, stop it immediately.”
“What do you mean…?”
“You’re standing three feet away from Andrew Neil who is doing a piece live to camera, and the world can see you behind him, scratching your…”