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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: Boris Johnson lets the chainsaw loose on HS2 opposition in Tory heartlands


Boris Johnson has excelled himself with a sweeping insult aimed at all those who oppose HS2 by suggesting that not one of them is motivated by concern for the environment: they are all thinking of the bottom line.

“People are in the humiliating position of having to pretend that there’s some environmental objection that they have, that the great crested grebe is going to be invaded or whatever. What they care about is their house prices,” he has told Total Politics magazine. “It’s bollocks. They’re not campaigning for forests, they’re not campaigning for butterflies. They pretend to be, obviously, but what they’re really furious about is that their house prices are getting it.”

Since most of the people he has insulted live in safe Conservative seats, and a good few are committed party activists, I can only wish Boris good luck in his campaign for the Tory leadership. But there is something he said that is just downright weird. “It’s tragic,” he said. “We have protest groups talking about ‘this ancient woodland’ when actually there’s no tree in this country that’s more than 200 years old. Most mature trees die at about my age, the average life expectancy of a tree can’t be more than about 60 years.”

Sometime, when he is not too busy, the mayor should visit Greenwich Park, within the city over which he presides, to apologise in person to the magnificent trees there that are known to have been planted in the year 1664, and to others believed to be even older.

Offence to Ukip intended

Tudor Evans, Labour leader of Plymouth Council, has told the Plymouth Herald that he hopes he has not offended anyone who is not a member of Ukip by retweeting a mock election poster with a picture of the party’s leader Nigel Farage along with the caption: “Come and tell this chinless gobshite to cram his party of swivel-eyed racist bellends all the way up his arse.” Plymouth – home of elegant political discourse.

Smith’s ambition of youth

The author Dominic Shelmerdine, who has spent years writing to the famous asking them what their first ambition was, received a reply in 1991 from the disgusting Sir Cyril Smith, who said that when young he had wanted to be Mayor of Rochdale (tick) and a millionaire (cross). He should have spent more time pursuing the latter ambition, and less time prowling in boys’ homes.

Is McBride with the rats?

Whatever happened to Damian McBride? Last autumn, you could hardly turn on a news channel without hearing about Gordon Brown’s notorious ex-spinner. Then he had a book to promote, and achieved an avalanche of free publicity after his publisher, Iain Dale, decided to hurl himself at a placard-waving homeless pensioner who wandered into camera shot.

These days, we hear nothing of McBride.  He has not tweeted for more than six months. It is even longer since he posted one of those interesting blogs he used to write. I am concerned for his well-being.

Come to that: whatever happened to the cannibal rat ship? In January, The Sun broke the scarifying news that the Lyubov Orlova, a deserted Mariya Yermolova-class cruise ship, was adrift in the Atlantic and heading for British shores, with no living creatures abroad apart from rats that survived by eating other rats. Three months have slipped by without a trace of the cannibal rat cruise ship.

It occurs to me that these two disappearances are very probably connected. Damian McBride is alone in the Atlantic living off cannibal rats. Or vice versa.