How to get a Tory policy: ask a children's novelist

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The Independent Online

David Cameron has bagged himself yet another celebrity backer to endorse his vision of "compassionate conservatism".

In the past year, Cameron has sought advice from the likes of Bob Geldof and Zac Goldsmith in a bid to publicise his new caring Tories.

Now, he's recently taken time to bend the ear of the bestselling children's author G P Taylor.

"My local MP, Robert Goodwill, said, 'do you want to come for a drink with me in Leeds? Somebody wants to meet you,'" Taylor tells me. "Well I don't drink, but we went up there and were stood in this house, and in walks David Cameron with his education spokesman, David Willetts.

"He asked me my opinion on education, and I said, 'get rid of all those tests and targets and let teachers do their jobs - let them teach'. Strangely enough, two weeks later this is what his party were touting."

Taylor, after the success of his first novel, Shadowmancer, spends most of his free time touring the country promoting literacy in schools. He was once a practising Anglican priest.

He enjoys the honour of once knocking his rival J K Rowling off the top of The New York Times bestseller list. But if Cameron hopes to get her on board as well he'll face an uphill struggle: JK is thought to be particularly chummy with her fellow Scotsman, Gordon Brown.

Paul Abbott's real-life dramas

Oh, to have been a yuletide fly on the wall at the family home of the award winning screenwriter Paul Abbott.

In a tale that could have been lifted from his Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless, which takes place on a gritty Manchester housing estate and stars David Threlfall as Frank Gallagher, Abbott was recently conned into lending his younger brother £10,000.

Having claimed the money was to get his teeth fixed, the sibling then decided to blow the cash elsewhere.

"It turned out he didn't need the dosh for his teeth at all, he used it all to go and buy a sports car. What use is a car when you've got gammy teeth?" Abbott told an audience at Coventry University recently.

He admitted he's in no mood to go debt collecting from his brothers anytime soon.

"I'm not asking for it back. Some of them have done spells inside for violence and they all go and vote BNP."

Piers and the prima donna

There was once a time when Piers Morgan would have happily impaled Naomi Campbell on one of her four-inch stilettos.

So what does the former Daily Mirror editor make of news that the troubled supermodel is to become his stable mate at men's monthly glossy GQ?

"Oh, no, we've put all our past behind us," he tells me. "I interviewed her for the magazine recently and half way through she turned the tables and began asking me the questions. She thought she was so good at it she's decided to turn her hand towards journalism so it's my fault really."

It's far cry from a couple of years back when Campbell successfully sued the Mirror for breach of confidentiality. At the time, Morgan delightfully labelled her a "lying, drug-abusing prima donna".


Samantha Cameron was on perky form at the launch of Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet the other night.

Perhaps it had something to do with The Spectator magazine's recent scoop that claimed her husband's party has an election war chest brimming to the tune of £20m.

It attributed to Mrs Cameron a large portion of credit for the windfall, which has come from wealthy City types eager to fork out for dinner with the Tory leader and his glamorous wife.

"Oh, I haven't read it yet," she told me, declining an offer to take my personal copy.

"I get it on subscription so I might have a look at it when I get home."

Sacha reveals Borat's pants

The comedian Sacha Baron Cohen appeared in his last film sporting a particularly revolting set of underwear.

His alter-ego, Borat, spent much of his screen time traipsing across America in a monstrous pair of "wicked" Y-fronts, which were apparently donated by Baron Cohen's parents.

"I must say that Borat's underwear is actually provided by my father," he tells this week's Jewish Chronicle. "They were my dad's underpants, which are actually made by the Norwegian navy."

If true, it's certainly one in the eye for Mr BC Snr's sartorial reputation. He earns his crust selling menswear to the well-heeled gents of London's Piccadilly.