Diary: Millionaire MP's hosepipe mystery will run and run

 

When the public are being subjected to an inconvenience like a hosepipe ban, there is nothing to beat a tabloid story proving that there is one law for ministers another for the rest of us. So one can imagine the delight in the news room of The People when their reporter returned from a visit to Englefield House, the £125m, 20,000-acre spread that is home to the Tory MP and junior environment Minister, Richard Benyon, having seen water gushing from a garden hose.

But it could be the newspaper that ends up in hot water, because Mr Benyon vehemently denies that he or his wife or anyone working for them turned on the water supply through that hose. He is suggesting that maybe somebody from The People did, and has contacted the police and the Press Complaints Commission. Like the water in that hose, this will run and run.

You bet it's bad for Ken Livingstone

None of the commentators called the result correctly in the run up to the Bradford West by-election, but the punters did. One leading bookie closed the book on a George Galloway victory because so much money was being bet on it.

After that humbling exercise, perhaps we should take shifts in betting patterns more seriously. That is bad news for Ken Livingstone because Ladbrokes reported yesterday that no one had put money on him for a week, and for the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick whom the bookies expect to be beaten by a previously unknown independent, Siobhan Benita.

The Green candidate, Jenny Jones, may also be in with a chance of beating Paddick – but not if her press team make many more mistakes like the one in a press release they issued yesterday in which she was quoted as saying: "London owes the elderly a better dead." It was followed by a hasty correction.

'Influential' Spicer damned by his own faint praise

Before you fork out cash for a politician's memoirs, you need to know whether the author was close enough to the centre of power to write a true insiders' account, or else you want to read a Chris Mullin or Alan Clark, whose sharp observations and concise writing compensate for their outsider status.

Michael Spicer, who was a lower middle ranking Tory MP for 36 years, was not a power broker and is not a great writer, but in The Spicer Diaries, published recently by Biteback, there is a degree of modesty rare among politicians.

He was a Thatcherite who served the lady loyally for 15 years and yet, he wrote, "my personal relationship with her was a difficult one... I was simply one of her foot soldiers".

He sometimes met John Major during his six-and-a-half year premiership, and yet - "how seriously did he take the several on the whole friendly meetings with me? The answer, I suspect, is 'Not very'."

After Major's fall, Spicer briefly assumed an important role as campaign manager for one of the leadership candidates, Michael Howard, but at their first campaign meeting – "MH overrules me on almost everything". Midway through "as usual in this campaign, my view does not prevail". In a field of six, Howard came sixth. David Cameron is absent from the diaries until he emerges as a candidate in another leadership election, in 2005. Five years later, he and Spicer speak, as this entry records: "Eve of poll. Cameron rings me. 'David here.' 'David who?' 'David Cameron. Would you be prepared to go into the Lords?' 'Yes please'."

According to the accompanying blurb Lord Spicer was "one of the most influential Conservative politicians of his generation."

Sweet nothings at NUT conference

As the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers drew to a close yesterday, the President, Marilyn Harrop, ticked off two miscreants sitting at the back who were engaged in "behaviour in a manner not becoming to the union". They were not threatening to strike or mouthing revolutionary marxist slogans – conduct not at all unbecoming of NUT members. Neither were they contemplating voting Conservative. No, according to my spy: "They were basically snogging. They weren't doing any more than that." But of course they should do that behind the bike shed, not up in the gallery during an NUT conference.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor