Michael Gove is being increasingly talked up as the next Conservative leader while George Osborne's odds lengthen with every Budget U-turn. It is interesting that someone with whom he has worked closely is off to get first-hand experience of fighting high-pressure elections. James Frayne, director of communications in Mr Gove's department, is off to the US to work for the Republican presidential campaign.
Heads of communications at government departments are theoretically civil servants but are often plucked from political backgrounds that suggest they would be comfortable defending government policy. Mr Frayne was former campaign director of the right-wing Taxpayers' Alliance when the Education department signed him up in February 2011. If, by chance, Mitt Romney were to win the presidency, a man with campaigning and civil service experience and a direct line to the republican White House would be very useful for a Prime Minister.
May irked at Lord Leveson's snub
Theresa May is cross with Lord Leveson. She was one of a clutch of Cabinet ministers who applied for "core participant status" for the final part of the Leveson Inquiry. That would allow her to see documents submitted to the inquiry before they are seen by the public. In a judgment posted on the inquiry website yesterday, Lord Leveson granted core status to David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Jeremy Hunt and Ken Clarke, but denied it to George Osborne, Vince Cable and Ms May on the grounds that none of the matters to be discussed concern their departments. Osborne has too much else on his mind to care. Cable is philosophical about this rejection, but the Home Secretary, so I hear, is most put out.
Walking a fine line when it comes to wit
There are few genuinely witty politicians. Some sound witty in Parliament because of the quality of the competition but not when up against the professionals. One who could hold his own against genuine competition was Gyles Brandreth, the former Tory MP for Chester. He is back in the public eye, ordering people around in a loud voice in the character of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest which opened last week at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. An aspect of the part that needed considerable practice was walking in high heels, he tells the Slough and South Bucks Express, sayng: "I forgot I was wearing them and went into town to get a sandwich. I was wondering why I was getting such funny looks."
The employee who told Gordon Brown to sod off
Damian McBride is a character from the age of spin who knew how to insult. It is usually assumed he insulted on behalf of Gordon Brown, his boss. But he delivered some of his most stinging insults directly at the man himself. On his blog, Mr McBride recalls five years ago when Mr Brown moved from the Treasury to being PM and his staff felt they should prepare him for the risk that people would shout insults at him in public. "I did always wonder what any Treasury officials passing outside the room would have thought hearing Gordon booming out: "I will do my utmost" while I shouted back at him: "Sod off, you Scottish git!"
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