Andy McSmith's Diary: ‘Conservative’ is a word the Tories dare not use


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Indy Politics

As the Conservatives struggle to hold Rochester and Strood against the rising wave of Ukip support, they have produced an eight-page newspaper called Kelly Talks, which boasts of an “exclusive” interview with their candidate Kelly Tolhurst. “I have seen the negative impact that uncontrolled immigration can have,” she told the paper. The writer adds that “Kelly raised an eyebrow by telling the Prime Minister that something needs to be done about immigration.”

OK, so they think immigration is a vote-winner. Meanwhile, nowhere on the eight printed pages will you find the word “Conservative”. They must think that word loses votes.

Myleene gives Ed a mauling

Being monstered in a television studio by the singer Myleene Klass was not Ed Miliband’s finest moment. If he had more courage in his convictions, and was less nervous about upsetting people, he could have batted away Klass’s excitable complaints about the mansion tax.

The giveaway moment was when ITV’s political editor Tom Bradby remarked that Ed was “getting a bit isolated”. He was isolated because he was defending a tax that would affect people who live in homes worth over £2m, caught between a pop star who sold the marital home last year for £1.8m, and a diplomat, Sir Christopher Meyer, whose house is so expensive that he complains he will be “royally screwed” if the tax comes into force. Not a representative sample of the British population.

Con’s mum’s jailbreak bid

News that Harry Roberts is out of prison 48 years after he murdered three police officers in west London has jogged the memory of Lord Soley, a Labour peer.

Clive Soley was a probation officer before he was a Labour MP. One of his assignments was to write a probation report about Harry Roberts’s mother, whom he remembers as an unhappy woman of limited intelligence.

She was arrested after a dead chicken was hurled over the wall of the prison where her son was held, landing in the prison yard with a splat and a clang. The clang came from a file stuffed inside the chicken. Mrs Roberts hoped her son could use it to file though his cell bars and break for freedom. The court gave her a conditional discharge.

Modern medicine men

“New research shows witch doctors prescribe the most antibiotics,” Martha Kearney announced, intriguingly, in the opening minutes of the BBC’s World at One programme. Or she may have said “which doctors”. If so, how dull.

A mine of Westminster gossip

If you are a well-known face around Westminster and want to talk in private, do not frequent Westminster’s Blue Boar. I keep hearing about the comings and goings last week of Arnie Graf, the American community organiser who has been helping Ed Miliband in some unspecified capacity. He was called in for breakfast with Newsnight’s Allegra Stratton.

As they talked, David Cameron’s Australian election guru Lynton Crosby arrived. Then came Dan Hodges, a former Labour activist who writes for The Daily Telegraph. Crosby was heard telling Hodges how greatly his column is appreciated in Downing Street.

Hodges spotted Graf, and there was a moment’s awkward conversation. Somebody then tipped off Paul Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes website, that Graf was in town, and he turned up with a camera to interrogate the American about whether he has been doing paid work in the UK without a work permit. Graf said he was just passing through en route to Israel. All that while other customers were trying to enjoy a quiet coffee.