The Diary: Businessman Binley rounds on Cameron and the yes men
David Cameron has "surrounded himself with yes men and insulated himself from any viewpoint but his own," says Brian Binley, a Tory MP sufficiently well thought of by fellow MPs to have been re-elected unopposed last month as one of the officers of the influential 1922 Committee.
When Tory MPs have a go at Cameron, it is usually because he is not right-wing enough, but Mr Binley has a different gripe. He was in business most of his life, becoming MP for Northampton South at an age when many men are looking towards retirement. His complaint is that Parliament is stuffed with two many career politicians who have never done anything much in any other field of endeavour – including David Cameron, whose sole experience outside politics was four years running Carlton TV's media office.
"Aside from a stint in PR the Prime Minister has no real experience of business or the world beyond politics and that's clearly had a negative impact on his selection of people," Mr Binley says. "As someone who has spent most of his life in business I know the importance of taking on board ideas which might contradict your own instincts ... but that's something the Prime Minister and those around him seem unable to understand."
Boris's deputy learns on the beat
Someone who foresaw these problems was Stephen Greenhalgh, a Tory councillor from west London, who remarked, prior to the election, of "his mates" in the shadow cabinet that "they haven't run a piss-up in a brewery". Councillor Greenhalgh acquired important responsibilities last month when Boris Johnson made him deputy mayor in charge of London's police. But his first appearance before members of the London Assembly was made so disastrous by his combination of swagger and total inability to answer questions that the recording threatens to be an internet sensation. Boris Johnson is standing by his deputy, saying he will become better when he has been in the job a bit longer.
Herd the one about Cherie's goats?
Should you happen to be near Westminster Bridge this afternoon, you will be able to see Cherie Blair herding goats. The stunt is being organised by the Loomba Foundation, of which Mrs Blair is honorary president, to draw attention to the plight of widows in Asia and Africa. For many of the world's widows, a goat is a symbol of prosperity and a bulwark against starvation. Raj Loomba, the Loomba chairman and Freeman of the City, is exercising an ancient right of any freeman to herd livestock over the bridge. Mrs Blair is a barrister. I tried in vain to find out how much she knows about herding goats. I suspect that hiring a nanny to look after the kids is about the extent of it.
Baron Cormack backs the bishops
The headline in Thursday's Independent – "The Lords will provide: Bishops paid up to £27,000 for attending Parliament" – was not well received in the Upper House. "We deplore the indiscriminate attacks on the bishops," that grand old Tory, Sir Patrick Cormack, left, now Baron Cormack of Enville in the County of Staffordshire, told his fellow peers. "We appreciate their presence, believe that they perform valuable duties and we do not expect them to sleep on the Embankment." That has told us.
The enigma of the Ministerial Code?
Today is the centenary of the mathematical genius Alan Turing the man who shortened the war by breaking the Germans' Enigma code, and whom an ungrateful nation drove to suicide because he was gay. There is no posthumous pardon for him, despite a petition on the Downing Street website signed by 34,000 people. But Manchester MP John Leech tabled a Commons motion yesterday paying tribute to a "Manchester war hero", while the Dutch have found a truly fitting way to honour him. They have built a Lego model of the Turing Machine, the precursor of the modern computer .
If only someone of Turing's genius was alive now to work out how to break the Ministerial Code. Jeremy Hunt tried and tried, but it seems to be impossible.
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