Andy McSmith's Diary: Strange bedfellows caught in cabal at Westminster

During a break at the high-level Govern Up conference at Westminster today, which brought together civil servants, politicians and advisers from all of the main political parties, who should be seen standing to one side, engrossed in an intense private conversation, but Ed Miliband’s chief of staff, Tim Livesey, and Johnny Oates, who does the same job for Nick Clegg.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Why the latest Tory HQ blunder is way off target

Somebody at Conservative HQ blundered in style by giving out too much information when they uploaded the photographs of hundreds of wannabe Tory MPs. The captions under 112 of the pictures categorised the seats they are fighting as ‘non-targets’ – meaning that the Tories plan to put minimal effort into winning them.

Culture Minister Sajid Javid

Andy McSmith's Diary: Culture Secretary rides to defence of posh entertainers like Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and James Blunt

Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Blunt and all the entertainers who went to expensive schools have a friend in the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Gordon Brown and George Galloway earn more than Tory barristers

Stephen Phillips has been described as Britain’s highest-paid politician – but he is not, not any more.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Old political souls never die in the corridors of power

Anyone who does not believe in life after death should come to Parliament after the general election and see the newly ex-MPs wandering the corridors like lost souls on the banks of the Styx. Those who have not landed seats in the House of Lords are allowed to hold on to their old Commons passes and haunt the place forever.

Andy McSmith's Diary: David Cameron's a man of principle - if you can dig deep enough

David Cameron has said he will “rule nothing out” – meaning that he just might call for a No vote in a referendum on EU membership if his negotiations in Brussels come to nothing.

Andy McSmith's Diary: The Tories' missing reports on 'weaponising' mass distraction

David Cameron is right on one point: no one seriously doubts that Ed Miliband dropped a comment in the hearing of BBC executives about “weaponising” the NHS. The PM says it was a “disgusting” thing to say.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Is that George Osborne I hear? Or Barry White?

Something seems to have happened to George Osborne’s voice. He did not sound like the Chancellor we have come to know and love during a live appearance on the Today programme. The squeak was not there. Perhaps it was a trick of the acoustics, maybe he has a cold, or maybe, just maybe, he has been practising to lower his pitch and sound more authoritative. Today, answering questions in the Commons, he sounded more like his usual self, but that could be only a temporary reversion.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Who said politics was all about the money? White Dee

White Dee, heroine of the Channel 4 documentary series Benefits Street, has been advised by her agent to shun politics. If the bookies are correct, she has a better chance than any other challenger of unseating the incumbent Labour MP Shabana Mahmood in Birmingham Ladywood where she lives, but her manager, Barry Tomes, thinks she should forget it. He has advised his client, whose real name is Deirdre Kelly, that she can make more money by being a media personality. She is thought to have been paid £100,000 for appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Ramsay or Nando's? The PM can't have both

Gordon Ramsay has had a bad week. In addition to losing a court battle over a rent agreement, which will set him back more than £2m, he has suffered the insult of having David Cameron say he would rather eat at Nando’s than in an establishment run by the celebrity chef.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Tipsters always fall short of running naked down Whitehall

The pundit and publisher Iain Dale has finally come up with a lame excuse for not keeping the most famous promise he ever made. On election night in 2010, Dale poured scorn on a BBC exit poll that predicted the Liberal Democrats would win as few as 59 seats. If that proved true, Dale promised, he would “run naked down Whitehall”. Actually, the poll overestimated rather than underestimated Nick Clegg’s appeal. They won 57 seats.

Andy McSmith's Diary: An anonymous Tory candidate may have discovered where the Nasty Party went

It is no fun being a Conservative in a seat held safely by another party, to judge from a diary posted on the ConservativeHome website by an unnamed writer who gave up a good job to be an unpaid parliamentary candidate.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Some parties do have 'em... the travails of Ukip hopefuls

After all the trouble Ukip has had selecting a candidate in Basildon South it has good reason to be pleased with its eventual choice of Ian Luder, a former Lord Mayor of London.

Andy McSmith's Diary: The price of justice? £277,600, to the tax payer

One of the most shocking murders to take place on British soil in recent years was the shooting of PC Ian Broadhurst on a street in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003 – not least because of a heart-rending recording in which the badly wounded officer was heard pleading: “No don’t, don’t, please, please no,” before receiving the final bullet in his head.

Andy McSmith's Diary: House not in order

One of the country’s longest serving council leaders, Keith House, a Lib Dem who has led Eastleigh council since 1994, has been through some upheaval in his private life.

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