David Cameron really ought to stop parading his knowledge of 1980s music. First there was Paul Weller, whose reaction on hearing that Cameron had listed “Eton Rifles” as his favourite tune was to exclaim: “Is he thick? He probably thinks ‘Eton Rifles’ is a song about him and his mates at school.”
Then Cameron declared himself a fan of The Smiths, whose former lead guitarist Johnny Marr tweeted: “Stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you.” Today, as Cameron was praising Hull for being chosen as the 2017 UK City of Culture, he did it again. “Hull has a fantastic record on popular music,” he said. “I remember some years ago that great Housemartins album, London 0 Hull 4– so named because they said they were the fourth-best band in Hull.”
Paul Heaton, founder of the Housemartins, who now runs a pub in Salford, was on Twitter before Prime Minister’s Questions was over. “When I took over my pub in Salford, the first people I barred was Cameron and Osborne. That ban still stands,” he proclaimed. “I can’t stop Cameron liking one of my albums, but who can stop him & his mates destroying the NHS?” This Sunday, Ed Miliband is on Desert Island Discs. Uh oh.
Twitter first is ex-MP’s last
The same session of Prime Minister’s Questions logged a first for Twitter when David Cameron read out a tweet just seven minutes after it was posted.
Its author was Tony McNulty, a former Labour Home Office minister who lost his seat in 2010 and has been trying to get back, but did not make the five-person shortlist for the winnable seat of Brent Central. McNulty liked it when Ed Miliband tackled the Prime Minister on childcare, but not when he veered on to the subject of who funds the Tory party. “Public desperate for PM in waiting who speaks for them – not Leader of Opposition indulging in partisan Westminster Village knockabout,” he tweeted – words that were gleefully thrown in the Labour leader’s face. A few days after McNulty was first elected MP for Harrow East in 1997, he asked Tony Blair quite a spikey question during a private meeting, which I was told about and reported. Later that week, an amused Labour whip told me that McNulty had been anxiously inquiring whether he had blown his chances of promotion. The whips put his mind at rest. But this time, Tony, I’m sorry to say, you really have blown it.
Clegg’s interest in sex toys
It was a day for odd social media links. Matty Curry, who claims to be the “chief whip and sexual tastemaker at UK’s biggest sex toy company” and “general go-to guy for sex toy statistics”, has fewer than 3,000 followers, but they include Nick Clegg. Then David Cameron’s office later had to explain that it was only following “elite London escort agency” Carltons due to an automated system that was in place three years ago. No 10 is currently unfollowing all “inappropriate” accounts.
Smell of fear in the House
Lunch time in the Commons was interrupted one day last week by a lockdown, with armed police sealing off the courtyard below Big Ben.
It emerged later that there had been a scare set off by a bottle of perfume. I can further reveal that the offending bottle, brought in by a member of the public, was a Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb. If you have ever seen one you will understand why it came to be mistaken for a hand grenade.