Diary: Labour plan Mensch seat grab
Wednesday 17 August 2011
Those who, like me, have grown used to Louise Mensch, Conservative MP for Corby, appearing in their Select Committee daydreams may be concerned to learn that Labour is keen to win her seat back. Corby is a marginal, which Mensch snatched from Labour's Phil Hope by fewer than 2,000 votes last year. And last week Labour selected its new candidate, Andy Sawford, son of another former Labour MP. This is very early in the electoral cycle for a constituency party to pick its champion. I do hope her local challenger won't distract Mrs Mensch from her pursuit of Piers Morgan and/or the writing of her next racy novel.
* Boris and Dave's alleged Bullingdon antics have returned to haunt them in the wake of the riots, and Nick "29 Shags" Clegg was not at all happy to be reminded of his own borderline criminal history by BBC Radio Nottingham. Asked whether, given a certain hot potato from his past, he felt empathy with the looters, the DPM became irritable: "Of course I don't have empathy with people who break the law! I didn't do anything like that... I was not convicted, for heaven's sake!" As a teenage public schoolboy on exchange in Germany, he consumed a healthy quantity of strong Bavarian lager at a party. Then, with a friend, he stole into a greenhouse containing many varieties of rare cacti, collected by the professor of botany to whom the garden belonged. The mischievous pair set fire to a selection of plants before running away. Their collars were quickly felt, but the prof was persuaded not to press charges, on condition that they dug flowerbeds as punishment. Clegg then spent the remainder of his summer visiting specialised garden centres with his mother, trying to find replacement cacti. "Frankly," said Clegg in 2009, "we did behave appallingly, irresponsibly, criminally." A custodial sentence seems in order.
* On the subject of tense radio exchanges, Geoffrey Boycott has been known to get a little testy, as listeners to Radio 4's Test Match Special will be aware. But he and his fellow host Jonathan Agnew are, it seems, firm friends. Or so thinks Boycott, anyway. "The other day, Geoffrey told me that he considers me to be his best friend," Aggers told me at the Edinburgh Book Festival (I get around), where he was promoting Thanks, Johnners, a tribute to the late Brian Johnston. "But I don't know if that's a compliment. And I think his memory might be going. He thinks he used to bat like Ian Botham."
* Strong stuff from The Times's Kevin Maher, who complains of the rise of the "media dad". "There can be few things more vile and self-serving than the faux ruminations of a media dad," he opines. "You know how it goes. 'Woah! My wife's just had a baby and it's, like, totally turned my life upside down and yet simultaneously revealed to me a hitherto undiscovered soft and squishy side which has ultimately forced me to acknowledge the fact that I am a truly great guy.'... [Media dad's] children are objects, experimental subjects, and serve only to flatter his image of himself." Whoever can he mean? Surely not Giles Coren, whose recent ode to "The New Fatherhood" was published in the same paper's pages? Coren, who recently became a father, wrote of weeping squishily as he composed a list of promises to his then-unborn daughter, with whom he was later photographed for the article in an Athena-poster pose. Coren's many charming child-based writings this year also include the following, from yet another letter to said daughter, in Esquire: "Just now, dabbing you with wet cotton wool and fanning your arse during a bit of 'nappy off time', I thought of how some clumsy public school boy, 15 years from now, is going to try licking yoghurt off your snatch because he saw it in a film." Aww, sweet!
* Further to this column's recent non-exclusive, in which I was not quite the first to reveal that W.E. – Madonna's mildly awaited Wallis Simpson biopic – contains a few glaring historical inaccuracies, it seems the very premise of the piece is in doubt. According to reports, Mrs Simpson's recently unearthed letters seem to suggest her love affair with Edward was no such thing, and she was still besotted with her ex-husband, Ernest. Still, history has rarely hindered Hollywood. Ask Mel Gibson.
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