Diary: Why 'horsegate' was on message for the Cameron grid

 

Yesterday was "Syria day" on the Downing Street grid. The grid is a device pioneered in Tony Blair's time by Alastair Campbell, under which all forthcoming government announcements, speeches etc are logged on a central calendar to prevent unnecessary clashes and so that the media managers know what the main message is to be.

Yesterday's main political news was scheduled to be David Cameron's strong words at the Brussels EU summit about the "day of reckoning" before an international court that awaits those who commit atrocities on behalf of the "criminal regime" in Syria. Unfortunately, a horse ran away with the headlines. After four days of uncertainty, Cameron finally confessed that he had in fact ridden Raisa, the retired police horse that was lent to the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks.

Cameron is an old school friend of the horse trainer Charlie Brooks, the husband of the former media magnate, and went riding with him before he became prime minister. "He has a number of horses and, yes, one of them was this former police horse Raisa which I did ride," he told the assembled media in Brussels.

A sane person might wonder why Downing Street bothers with this story, however much it entertains us. It is because of the light it shines on Mr Cameron's adage that we are all in it together. Visiting a millionaire you have known since you were fellow pupils in the most expensive school in the country, and going out for a ride on a police horse lent by the Metropolitan Police to your mate's wife, who heads a corporation that has been stuffing the pockets of corrupt Met officers with backhanders: it's a story that could be about any of us.

A dictator, a stud and a stallion

The last prime minister to be troubled by a horse was John Major, who was presented with a magnificent stallion in 1993 by Saparmurat Niyazov, the cruel, corrupt and self-aggrandising dictator of Turkmenistan. The horse was one of a special breed unique to that country, and there was a risk of diplomatic repercussions when Major seemed uncertain about what he was expected to do with it. Eventually, the animal was conveyed 4,000 miles via Moscow to the UK, meeting all manner of complications on the way. On arrival, it was found to be too small for the cavalry and too frisky for ceremonial occasions, so it was sent to a Welsh stud farm, where it lived happily ever after.

Glamour knows no party bounds

The April edition of Glamour, which calls itself the "No 1 Women's Magazine", boasts of a new columnist, the "all-round GLAMOUR girl Louise Mensch". In her inaugural column, Mensch names six women she particularly admires. They include Gloria de Piero, whom she lauds for having "rocked the House of Commons with her tough talk", thereby proving that "nice girls do finish first!" Mensch is a Tory MP; De Piero is Labour.

Uniform response to Nazi nasties

As Mark Pawsey, the Tory MP for Rugby, protested in the Commons about a how a war memorial had been shockingly defaced with Nazi graffiti, who should be sitting by him but his fellow Tory Aidan Burley, of Nazi-themed stag party fame. Mr Burley was soberly dressed and on his best behaviour.

Ode to Ed: a poetic licence to advise

A hazard of being the leader of the Opposition is that you are expected to listen politely to people who think they know the answer to the question that obsesses you night and day, namely how to get elected.

"I said to Ed Miliband the other day," Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate, has told his local paper, the Camden New Journal, "if you want people to believe in you, to believe in your government, to win an election, we need a new style of government.

"What else do we value apart from wealth and materialism? What would it be like to live under a government that cares about people, a government that puts its firepower towards lives gone wrong, one that trusts the arts as much as pound signs?"

That's Labour's election manifesto sorted then. Next, we need to know what advice Ed Miliband gave Mr Motion on writing poetry.

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 Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before