Andy McSmith's Diary: And Michael Fabricant thought he’d be safe in the Commons...


After that highly publicised affair last week when the Tory MP Michael Fabricant tweeted that he might like to punch my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the throat, she was in the Commons on Wednesday evening when who should she encounter but the man himself. “I’m on a commission which is chaired by Harriet Harman, on older women. We had finished the meeting; they were all running for a seven o’clock vote. I was coming down the stairs when there he was,” she said.

“It was so funny because Ed Miliband was there, and Tory MPs who have told me they were shocked by what he wrote, so I said to him – ‘Here’s my throat, come, come for me’.”

Afterwards, she tweeted about the encounter, calling Fabricant “offensive and a bloody coward too”.

To her astonishment, her words were retweeted by Fabricant, who generally lives by the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity. He also replied: “I smiled benignly at you as you stopped me on the stairs and you said what you said and I thought: how very strange.”

“It just shows you how utterly shameless he is,” she said.

Unsoldierly conduct

Interviewed in The House magazine, the trade journal for MPs, General Sir David Richards, the former Chief of the Defence Staff, seems to think that the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, is more or less OK – “a sort of tough dad” – but “I don’t think I’ll be spending Christmas with him” and “he will never make a soldier, I can tell you that.” Hammond could reasonably retort that Lord Richards will never make a politician, come to that.

Name changer

Two months ago, The Independent reported that a Cambridge student was in danger of graduating under a different name. Phin Adams, a third year theology student, was the surprise winner of the “Speech Radio Personality of the Year” award for his Sunday show on the student network, Cam FM. He had imposed upon himself the task of playing every UK No 1 by graduation day, with the promise that he would change his name to Pop Man if he failed.

At that stage, in April, he was still working through the 1983 charts. Well, he just managed to pass that test in the time available and this week, he received his BA – only the university spelt his name “Adam” instead of Adams, so he graduated under an assumed name after all.

A woman PM? Who cares?

The polling company ComRes has carried out a poll to see whom the public would most like to be the next woman Prime Minister – to which the sad but unsurprising answer is that most do not care very much. Almost two-thirds – 64 per cent – of the 2,065 people surveyed went under the “don’t know” heading. Of those who had an opinion, the greatest number, 17 per cent, favoured Theresa May. On the Labour side, Harriet Harman on 7 per cent was ahead of Yvette Cooper on 5 per cent, while the Tory MP Liz Truss scored just 1 per cent.

Ros Trinick, of the Political Lobbying company PLMR, who commissioned the poll, said: “After the general election, it’s very likely that either Labour or the Conservatives will have a new leader. Both Theresa May and Yvette Cooper are well respected and well-known within their own parties, but this poll shows the same is not true among the wider electorate.”