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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform