Andy McSmith's Diary: Aidan Burley is not anti-Semitic - he's just stupid and very convincing

Aidan Burley, the Tory MP who bought a Nazi uniform for a friend to wear at a stag party, is presumably relieved by the conclusions of a report by Lord Gold, a Tory peer who was asked by the party to look into the affair. He concluded Mr Burley “is not a bad man, still less a racist or an anti-Semite” but he is stupid.

Andy McSmith's Diary: I’m sorry, but the next (possible) rector won’t be able to see you now

Edward Snowden, the US intelligence leaker, may soon be filling a ceremonial role in Britain’s academic life. Students at Glasgow University have embarked on a campaign to have him elected as their rector.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Conservative candidate’s racial sensitivity falls flat as a pancake

“One thing I have become very sensitive about is this accusation that Conservatives are somehow racist,” Edward de Mesquita, who is standing as a Conservative candidate in West Hampstead, in London, told the Camden New Journal. “Conservatives are not racist. So many of the Conservatives have foreign wives, after all.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Music bonus on BBC show as Nick Robinson's iPad blasts out Queen hit live on air

Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, had an embarrassing moment on air today. During the Daily Politics programme, Labour’s Caroline Flint was railing against bonuses for bankers that are larger than their annual salaries when suddenly a burst of music filled the studio. It was coming from Robinson’s iPad, which he hastily switched off.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s actions speak even louder than his words

Speeches in the House of Commons by the Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg are an erudite comedy turn. As MPs debated the European Union (Approvals) Bill (Lords), which writes into British law two draft regulations passed by the Council of the European Union, only he thought it necessary to read into the official record part of what one of the regulations actually said.

Andy McSmith's Diary: No constituent left behind (as long as they pay for my toilet paper)

“Torridge and West Devon are two of the lowest wage areas in the country,” the local Tory MP Geoffrey Cox told the North Devon Journal last week. His resolution for 2014 was to make sure that those on low wages “are not left behind”.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Why do these troughers in ermine have a legal right to line their pockets?

The House of Lords has published details of expenses claimed by their lordships during August 2013. Since they convened for only one day that month, most peers claimed no expenses, but among the minority who did you will see – inevitably – the names of that trio of troughers in ermine, Lord Hanningfield, Lord Taylor of Warwick, and Baroness Uddin.

Andy McSmith's Diary: David Cameron tussles with ancestors, A-roads and Aziz

Given how sensitive David Cameron is to the accusation that he is a “posh boy”, he is not going to be pleased when he opens the current edition of The Spectator, in which his father-in-law, William Astor, revisits the family link to the old Profumo scandal.

Andy McSmith's Diary: ‘Prophylactic’ Nick Clegg is no protection against Boris Johnson

Nick Clegg is David Cameron’s condom, according to the latest insult directed at the Deputy Prime Minister by London’s irrepressible Mayor, Boris Johnson.

Andy McSmith's Diary: 2013 - a year of discoveries - from secret gardens to extraterrestrial trysts

It is approaching that time of the year when you take a backward look and think to yourself: what do I know now that I didn’t know a year ago?

Andy McSmith's Diary: Ed Miliband breaches the spin doctors’ rules - he does good on the quiet

Ed Miliband has breached a basic rule of politics, which is that if you do good, make sure people know. For some years he has spent part of each Christmas Day delivering lunches on behalf of a charity, and will do again next Wednesday.

Andy McSmith's Diary: A Christmas-card character mash-up from Parliament

Most Christmas cards from MPs are worthy, if dull, but one or two try to break away and do something notable, usually landing their senders in trouble in the process.

Andy McSmith's Diary: The less than noble Lord Laird will have few friends left in the House

John Laird, the Ulster Unionist peer caught in a newspaper sting, is going to have to manage without free car parking and access to Parliament’s subsidised bars and dining rooms for four months, after the Lords Privileges Committee found that he had “demonstrated a clear willingness” to use his position for financial gain. Brian Mackenzie, former Durham Chief Constable and a Labour peer, has also been suspended – in his case, for six months.

Andy McSmith's Diary: In politician-speak, we’re
essentially going to win the Ashes

Iain Duncan Smith has described his plan to introduce Universal Credit as “essentially on time” – an expression you might find useful the next time you are embarrassingly late without a plausible excuse.

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