Diary: The Tory memoir that carries a whiff of sour grapes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Some of the best headlines from the old expenses scandal were provided by a Tory MP, David Heathcoat-Amory, who lost his seat in 2010. It was not that his expenses were outstandingly large. He was one of the rare ones who claimed nothing for mortgage and rent on his second home. But he did claim for maintenance, which was his undoing, because the small print included 19 claims over three years for manure, at a total cost of £388.

This revelation was used mercilessly at the election by his Liberal Democrat opponent, Tessa Munt. Wells, in Somerset, had been held by the Conservatives since 1924, but Ms Munt took it off him by just 800 votes. Before that, Mr Heathcoat-Amory was known, insofar as he was known at all, for having quit his post as a Treasury minister in John Major's government to campaign against the EU – and to make sure his former boss at the Treasury, Ken Clarke, did not get to be party leader. He was, in other words, a Daily Telegraph kind of politician, but it was the Telegraph that destroyed him with the headline: "MP dumps manure on the taxpayer."

Today sees the launch of his memoirs, Confessions Of A Eurosceptic, in which he writes with understated contempt for Ms Munt, and takes a swipe at the role the Tory Party machine did not play in the expenses scandal. "None of the expensive spin-doctors and media advertisers employed by the Conservative Party were made available to backbenchers," he recalls.

Gathering nutters in May

The June edition of Word magazine is not very respectful about two of the best-known Tory politicians of recent times, whom it has listed under the heading: "Nutter alert! It's the worst British eccentrics."

About Ann Widdecombe, it says: "Hoisted to national treasuredom via the chairlift of public ignorance, old blinky's Worzelian bumbling obscures weapons-grade political bastardry. To wit: opposed repeal of Section 28 and defended the shackling of pregnant prisoners. Adorbs!"

And of Boris Johnson, it adds: "What ho, it's the inflatable cartoon mayor who mistook London for a Trumptonesque fiefdom. Fauntleroys blithely across a gridlocked wasteland of dead buses and disembowelled public services but aww, dunnee 'ave funny hair, etc."

A rant from the republicans

A day after Boris Johnson's call to have a Tory installed as Director-General of the BBC, the corporation is under attack from a different quarter. It is being threatened with legal action by the pressure group Republic, which claims that, by promoting the Queen's Diamond Jubilee while ignoring the views of those who would abolish the monarchy, the BBC has breached its duty to be impartial. "The BBC acts as if the Royal Family is universally adored," complains Republic's chief executive, Graham Smith. The BBC says it will "vigorously" resist any court action.

What's in a (middle) name?

The most startling revelation to emerge yesterday from the Leveson inquiry has to be that the middle name of Sky's long-serving Political Editor, Adam Boulton, is Babington.

Comments