Andy McSmith's Diary: Ashcroft makes monumental £100,000 bid for the Edstone

Lord Ashcroft tweeted that if Labour were to auction the eight foot six inch high menhir, he would start the bidding at £100,000

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Indy Politics

Though the advisers are talking and the hacks are asking no one has yet established who thought up the idea of the Edstone.

Whichever genius dreamt that it would help Ed Miliband to be photographed in front of an eight foot six inch high menhir covered in bland promises has been inexplicably shy about coming forward. And, of course, no one knows for certain where the Edstone now is, or whether it exists or has been pulverised. But Lord Ashcroft has made a tentative step towards preserving this historic item for the nation, by tweeting that if Labour would care to auction it, he would start the bidding at £100,000. There is gold in that there Edstone.

Nutty Nuttall hits a wall

Doughnutting is an expression MPs use to denote the practice of bunching themselves around whoever is peaking in the Commons to give television viewers the idea that the chamber is full of MPs when in fact it is almost empty. But when David Nuttall, from the swivel-eyed right of the Conservative Party, got up in the back row to speak in the debate on the EU referendum, no other Conservative seemed to want to be seen sitting near him. This amused the SNP’s Alex Salmond. How, he asked, can the country’s future “be entrusted to members of a political party who can’t even organise themselves to doughnut the right speaker?”

“That is a very interesting point,” Nuttall replied, looking around, puzzled. Then he spotted what could be the answer. “They’d have difficulty sitting behind me, as there’s a wall,” he announced triumphantly.

Healey awaits horse’s head

There was an unexpected disturbance as John Healey was speaking during the hustings for the eight contenders to be Labour’s new deputy leader. A mobile phone belonging to a fellow Labour MP John Spellar rang, loudly. His ring tone is the theme tune from The Godfather. Healey has been nominated by only 21 MPs; he needs 35 to get on the ballot paper. Soon they may be saying that his campaign sleeps with the fishes.

Grease is the word

Nigel Huddleston, the newly elected MP for Mid Worcestershire, asked such a sycophantic question in the Commons that David Cameron called him “my new best friend.” Years ago, he was a university flat mate of Louise Mensch, who in her brief time in the Commons as a Tory MP helped James Murdoch, the media mogul’s son, through a grilling by a Commons committee of which she was a member by announcing that she had to leave early to collect her children from school. A good person from whom to learn the subtle art of greasing the powerful.

Doug’s at war with himself

Harriet Harman scored when she told David Cameron to stop gloating and show some class. He did actually try to stop the Eton gloat when addressing Labour MPs - but the amnesty was lifted when UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, asked a serious question about the EU. Referring to Carswell’s well-known disagreement with Nigel Farage over whether the UKIP leader should take a break, Cameron taunted him: “He has made some history because, as a party of one, he has managed to have a backbench rebellion.”