Diary: How cold-blooded Miliband cut out McPoison


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The Independent Online

Politics rewards some of its practitioners beyond their merits, while others like the late John Profumo do something they shouldn't and are punished way out of proportion to the offence. Gordon Brown's former spinner, Damian McBride, aka McPoison, is in the latter class.

He sent an email from inside Downing Street repeating scraps of unpleasant gossip that were going around Westminster. The recipient's email account was hacked, the email found its way on to the Guido Fawkes blog site, and McBride lost his job, and had to struggle to find any work on any salary while notoriety followed wherever he went.

However, he has begun a process of self-rehabilitation with a remarkable blog full of extraordinary details from the days when he was close to power. He posted one yesterday about the events of 6 October 2007 – "undoubtedly the worst day of my working life" – when Gordon Brown backed out of calling a general election.

He takes upon himself a large part of the blame for that fiasco, seeking only to deny that he was the poisoner who put it about at the time that it was all the fault of Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander. Miliband believed he was. The most interesting passage in the blog describes Miliband ringing up to sever relations. "With the benefit of perspective, I have to admire the steeliness in Ed Miliband. It wouldn't have been easy to tell someone who'd worked loyally for him for eight years that he was finished with them, and do so in such cold-blooded tones," McBride wrote.

Oh what joy: I've bought Blair's home

Tony Blair's family has sold one of its London homes for a reported £1.3m. The new owner is a Pakistani-born doctor, Dr Muhammed Ashraf Chohan, who is so pleased with his purchase he has emailed details to the Daily Times, in his native Punjab. "It was joyful job for him to buy a property from a celebrity of the UK," the paper reports.

MPs are no longer flocking to Shepherd's

Shepherd's, a renowned restaurant close to Parliament, in which Michael Caine had an interest, served its last plate of sausages and mash last night.

For years, it was the place where the novelist and dilettante Tory politician Jeffrey Archer, below, held court, but it has hit hard times.

Rumour has it that it was not only the recession that did for Shepherd's. Now that MPs have to account for every pound they claim from their rigorous new expenses regime, they cannot afford to wine and dine their spouses or lovers as they used to.

Contrasting fortunes in the art world

A private viewing at the Trinity House art gallery off New Bond Street on Thursday offered a contrasting insight into how some of the citizens of this One Nation are coping. Works on offer included a 1907 painting by Sir Alfred Munnings, Going to the Meet, depicting a couple on horseback, which is yours for £1.5m, while £75,000 will get you a 1939 LS Lowry drawing that once belonged to Kenny Everett.

The art market is in fine fettle, Trinity House's co-owner, Simon Shore, told me. On the one hand, hard times mean that some people are having to sell off disposable assets like paintings, while the people with money don't know what to do with it. "A good client of mine has got his business, he's got his property, he doesn't want any more, and he is sitting on £200m in cash. So he's buying paintings," Mr Shore added.

Well, we all have our problems.