Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip now has a ‘front bench’ – just don’t try to sit on it

Did you know that Ukip has something called a “front bench”? Well, it has – and over the past two days, Nigel Farage has been conducting what his people grandly call a “reshuffle” to overcome the idea he runs the whole show single-handedly, and to give the party a more modern finish.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Ruffled ermine as David Cameron pays for overlooking the Lords in last week's reshuffle

David Cameron has had to soothe the ruffled ermine of outraged peers by promising a seat in his Cabinet for their leader, Baroness Stowell, if the Conservatives win the general election.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Try as you might, you can’t keep Goodman down

Helen Goodman, Labour’s shadow media minister, is in trouble again. Last time, it was for not knowing where she was; this time, it was for putting out a sweeping insult of all the women Tory MPs promoted by David Cameron in his latest reshuffle.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Scowling Speaker John Bercow and the Anglo-Saxon epithet

One of the saving graces of the House of Commons used to be that while MPs might behave badly towards each other, they at least had respect for the office of the Speaker. That took a dive during Michael Martin’s mishandling of the MPs’ expenses crisis, and hit a new low today when John Bercow was openly accused of driving a popular parliamentary officer into early retirement.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Jonathan Hill for Brussels. But which Jonathan Hill?

Lord Hill is best known as the minister who once went into the Prime Minister’s office intending to resign, but spoke so softly that David Cameron did not hear, and so he kept him on. So whether he meant to accept the post of European Commissioner can only be guessed: perhaps he turned it down, sotto voce, and the Prime Minister thought he was saying yes.

Andy McSmith's Diary: A tale of two MPs – and how honest doubt trumped tub-thumping

If Boris Johnson wants a Commons seat not far from his London home, the ideal berth is now available. John Randall, the bird-loving MP for Uxbridge, owner of the finest beard on the Tory benches, has announced that he is quitting Parliament at the next election.

Mr Hamilton said: ‘I apologise unreservedly to Allan Rogers. It was an inadvertent slip of the tongue.’

Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip's Neil Hamilton left embarrassed after he claimed that a former MP visited bondage clubs on BBC Newsnight

The party's deputy chairman has since apologised 'unreservedly' to Allan Rogers

Andy McSmith's Diary: Was Harriet Harman discriminated against for being useless?

Damian McBride, the former Labour spin doctor sometimes referred to as McPoison, was thought to have gained an inner calm while working for the Catholic charity Cafod, a job he recently left ahead of the appearance of a paperback version of his annoyingly readable memoirs. Today, though, he blew a fuse. What set him off was the news that Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, was implicitly accusing McBride’s old boss, Gordon Brown, of sexism.

Andy McSmith's Diary: What’s in a name? Well, only about 4,400 miles...

You have to feel some sympathy for Chuka Umunna. Normally so calm and so sharp, he is being talked up as one of the Labour shadow cabinet’s star performers – and then he goes and mangles a word one day, and everyone is laughing at him.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Top-table Guido fails to practise what he preached

How strange to see the name of Paul Staines, otherwise known as the blogger Guido Fawkes, on the guest list among the billionaires, oligarchs and Cabinet ministers at the Tories’ fund raising summer party, obtained by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism. The Leveson Inquiry was warned against such fraternisation during one its hearings, three years ago. “Senior politicians, editors and proprietors mix freely, all too easily,” their witness said.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Tory’s think-tank attack is not such a bright idea

Ann Leslie, the 73-year-old former Daily Mail columnist, reminds me that six years ago she revealed in her memoirs how she was once ambushed in a bedroom by the film star David Niven. After writing that, she received a reader’s letter – unpublishable until now – from a woman who had suffered a similar experience at the hands of Rolf Harris.

Ben Duncan is a Green councillor in Brighton

Andy McSmith's Diary: Brighton Green Ben Duncan apologises for 'hired killers' tweet on Armed Forces Day

Ben Duncan, a Green councillor in Brighton, has apologised, two days after the event, for tweeting “Armed Forces Day has certainly brought the hired killers onto the streets of Brighton today. Hard to explain to my son!”

Andy McSmith's Diary: And Michael Fabricant thought he’d be safe in the Commons...

After that highly publicised affair last week when the Tory MP Michael Fabricant tweeted that he might like to punch my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the throat, she was in the Commons on Wednesday evening when who should she encounter but the man himself. “I’m on a commission which is chaired by Harriet Harman, on older women. We had finished the meeting; they were all running for a seven o’clock vote. I was coming down the stairs when there he was,” she said.

Gordon Brown: admission

Andy McSmith's Diary: BBC’s mixed messages led me to Westeros and Essos

John Birt, the former Director-General of the BBC, expounded a theory of television journalism which his colleague Peter Jay called the “mission to explain”. Today, whoever was operating their news app seems to be on a mission to mystify, as users twice received a weird message, which included the information that there will be “No nudity in latest episode of Game of Thrones!!!” and that “Push sucks! Pull blows!” It was followed by another message, apologising for the previous two: a test message was posted in error.

Andy McSmith's Diary: The honourable member for Riyadh Central

Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury, has distinctive views on the Middle East, in which he takes a keen interest. He once told the Commons that the best man to unify Libya would be Crown Prince Mohammed el-Senussi, great nephew and heir of King Idris, who was overthrown in 1969. He is also a friend and admirer of President Assad’s cousin Ribal al-Assad, who has lived in London since a family feud forced his blood-soaked father to  leave Syria.

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