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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: Egg on Benyon’s face in food fight


Richard Benyon, the minister responsible for food, was given an idea of what it would be like to be pelted with rotting vegetables yesterday after remarks that he made in the Commons were all over the front of the Daily Telegraph. Coming on the same day that he was identified as Britain’s richest MP, with an estimated fortune of £105m, it did not look good that he was apparently telling families that a bit more care about managing their fridges and keeping perishable food properly wrapped would help them through these times of austerity.

It has inspired an online petition demanding to know what is in the Benyon family fridge.

David Cameron sounded thoroughly embarrassed when interviewed on BBC1’s Breakfast programme. “Obviously, that does not look good, but what you’ve done is take a newspaper article, assume that everything in it is right,” he said.

But everything in the article was right, because it all comes straight off the official record, in Hansard – though to be fair, Mr Benyon, pictured, was talking about the environmental impact of the £12m worth of food that is thrown away every year, adding that “most people want to do something on a personal level.” And he did suggest: “There may be some changes in the Benyon household.”

Bell’s a mouthpiece, not a priest

In December 2011, The Independent ran an exposé of how an executive of the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger had boasted that they had been able to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of a business client.

The publicity may have alarmed Chime, the communications company that owned Bell Pottinger – but that only helped speed up a management buy-out. Tim Bell does not mind the publicity that comes from representing some clients like the Belarussian government or the wife of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. “We don’t think it’s part of our job to make the industry this wonderful thing that people clap and cheer ,” he said. “We communicate for people who need to tell their story – if they don’t tell a true story, they’ll get found out. I’m not some kind of priest.”

They’re best Left alone

“Nottingham and Notts Left Unity had its first meeting on April 17th,” says a report online. “A mix-up meant that a number of people didn’t receive an agenda, but nine people did turn up...” There you go then: left unity sorted.

You shouldn’t lie down with dogs, Ed

Whatever Ed Miliband’s reason for meeting George Galloway, it was a bad idea. Galloway, who loves attention, has taken to Twitter to say that “Miliband’s claim that he repeatedly pursued me for a one-hour meeting about “boundary changes” is, quite simply, a lie.” No more meetings are in prospect, I understand.