Andy McSmith's Diary: An anonymous Tory candidate may have discovered where the Nasty Party went


Click to follow
Indy Politics

It is no fun being a Conservative in a seat held safely by another party, to judge from a diary posted on the ConservativeHome website by an unnamed writer who gave up a good job to be an unpaid parliamentary candidate.

He describes the guilty feeling he experienced when he urged members of his local association to go out and spread the Conservative message, because many are in their 80s. Summoned to Conservative headquarters, he sees “rows of charmless young people”, and is told to give up canvassing in his own constituency and concentrate his efforts on the nearest target seat, many miles away.

“Is this the Nasty Party that I’ve heard of but don’t believe really exists? I’m confused,” he writes.

Captain Morgan?

“It would be lovely to have another female leader of the [Tory] party,” the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, tells The House magazine. The only woman higher up the present Cabinet is Theresa May, but Ms Morgan does not appear to be a fan.

Last year, the Home Secretary floated the idea of deporting foreign students as soon as they have completed their studies. George Osborne has already effectively killed that idea. Ms Morgan marked its passing with the caustic comment: “When my constituents are talking about immigration, I don’t think they are talking about Loughborough University.”

But if she is eyeing up Cameron’s job for herself, Ms Morgan should be thinking first about whether she can get re-elected. Her majority in Loughborough is only 3,744.

Shocked by the everyday

The Paris massacre was so close to home that it has an immediacy that violent deaths in faraway places lack, although it is in fractured countries such as Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan that religious fundamentalists do most of their killing.

Saturday will be the anniversary of one Taliban atrocity out of many, when a suicide bomber and two gunmen attacked the La Taverna restaurant in Kabul, killing its Lebanese owner Kamal Hamade, an IMF official named Wabel Abdallah, four of the UN’s civilian staff, and 15 others.

Heidi Kingstone, a London-based Canadian journalist and the author of Dispatches from the Kabul Café – which reads like a collection of wildly imagined short stories but is all true – knew the restaurant and its proprietor. “Sometimes, because of the distance, it can seem unreal,” she wrote. “That is, until you see the pictures of the mangled buildings and the dead bodies of men and women, Afghan and expat, hiding, trying to save their lives.”

Pitt in the light

The Pitt club, Cambridge University’s answer to the Bullingdon, could be on the road to surrendering its status as a male bastion. The rules of the club, reproduced in the current issue of The Tab student newspaper, say that members can bring up to three guests, including “ladies, after dark [only] except Sunday lunch”.

Now, the paper reports, it is proposed that “ladies” should be allowed to come in as lunch guests any day of the week, for a three-month trial period. At next month’s annual meeting, there will be a debate about whether to make the innovation permanent.

The Pitt was founded in 1835, and while it cannot boast a prime minister among former members – unlike the Bullingdon – its alumni include a king, Edward VII, an economist, John Maynard Keynes, and an Oscar nominee, Eddie Redmayne.

Hague’s hideaway

As William Hague bows out of frontline politics at the May election, he will not be living uncomfortably. He and his wife, Ffion, have just bought the 10-bedroom Cyfronydd Hall in Powys for a reputed £2.5m. With more time on his hands, the former Foreign Secretary may want to brush up his Welsh, because Ffion hails from an eminent Welsh-speaking family. “In my household, debating the Welsh language is not a good idea,” he once said. “Adopting the Welsh language is a good idea!”

Jogging the memory

Someone who does not want his name in the newspapers has helped to reignite a 30-year-old feud. The anonymous man spotted Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, out running near his Hampstead home, and swore at him as he passed. Campbell raised an arm and made physical contact. The man has told his local paper, The Ham and High, that Campbell hit him, although CCTV rather bears out Campbell’s version that he extended his arm to prevent the man coming any closer.

The passer-by was evidently not quite the average Hampstead resident, because his first reaction was to pass the story to George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West, who was expelled from Labour years ago when Tony Blair was its leader. Galloway has a feud with Campbell that goes back to the mid-1980s, when Campbell was a tabloid journalist, and wrote about the finances of the charity War on Want, of which Galloway was a young general secretary.

“Blair’s poodle Ali Campbell in Street spat”, Galloway tweeted gleefully. Campbell did not take that quietly. He retaliated with a series of tweets taunting Galloway over the Twitter reactions, which were not running in the Respect MP’s favour. “Hope he is seeing the new universal condemnation. Pathetic little man,” he wrote.

They will still be feuding in another 30 years, if they live that long.