Andy McSmith's Diary: David Cameron tussles with ancestors, A-roads and Aziz
Given how sensitive David Cameron is to the accusation that he is a “posh boy”, he is not going to be pleased when he opens the current edition of The Spectator, in which his father-in-law, William Astor, revisits the family link to the old Profumo scandal.
Astor’s father, also named William, owned Cliveden House, in which he installed a swimming pool, where the Defence Secretary John Profumo first set eyes on the naked, 19-year-old Christine Keeler.
William Jr also writes about how his vivid memories of the seedy Stephen Ward, who brought Keeler to Cliveden, and reveals he has recently met Keeler’s friend, Mandy Rice- Davies, who on being told that Lord Astor denied having sex with her, unforgettably replied: “He would, wouldn’t he?” It is the sort of publicity the Prime Minister could do without.
Ten years have passed since the publication of a widely forgotten thriller, The Devil’s Tune, by Iain Duncan Smith. Robson Books bought the manuscript when IDS was still leader of the Conservative Party, but by the time it reached the bookshops in November 2003, he was an ousted ex-leader.
Although sales were never spectacular, and it is now 522,766th on the Amazon best-seller list, I see that it has managed to pick up no fewer than 32 customer reviews on Amazon.
Sadly, all but three are hostile. Even the one which Amazon headlines “the most helpful favourable review” is actually praising the “ultra-absorbent lightly-scented” paper on which it is printed, which the reviewer thinks makes good toilet paper.
“The abject banality of the plot, mind-crushingly predictable characterisation, inert prose and relentlessly monotonous story arc are all meticulously designed,” says another.
On this basis, IDS had better stick to what he is good at… I’ll get back to you on that one.
Road to nowhere
The Prime Minister was ever so nice about a mundane question in the House of Commons from the Tory MP Anne McIntosh, about traffic on the A64 in Yorkshire.
“You are absolutely right to raise this issue… I know the Chancellor was listening carefully,” he gushed.
Might his tone be connected in some way with the campaign by McIntosh’s local party executive in her Thirsk and Malton seat, who all want to sack her?
Hot potato councillor
David Cameron is strangely misinformed about the Conservative councillor he met in Downing Street who has been accused of involvement in a murder in Pakistan.
Councillor Abdul Aziz, from Nelson, Lancashire, has been named in the country as a suspect in the murder of his cousin, Muhammed Ilyas.
In November, Cameron undertook to write to the Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop about how Councillor Aziz came to be invited to an Eid ceremony in Downing Street.
The letter, which arrived today, said – rightly – that the allegations against him are disputed, but added: “The allegations date from the time when he was a Labour councillor and that during his time as a Labour councillor, the Labour Party did absolutely nothing about them.”
Aziz was indeed a Labour councillor at the relevant time, but when the allegations surfaced, he was suspended from the Labour group, and defected to the Conservatives amid a blaze of publicity, so the claim that Labour did “absolutely nothing” is not true.
Perhaps someone on Mr Cameron’s staff could go back to Andrew Stephenson, the Conservative MP for Pendle, who arranged Mr Aziz’s invitation to Downing Street, to run through the facts one more time.
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