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
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

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral