Andy McSmith's Diary: Even Larry the cat is not safe from factions in Downing Street

Our man in Westminster

The more I hear about Larry the Downing Street cat, the more his story becomes an allegory for our time. As previously reported, the reputation of this mog was trashed by Downing Street spin doctors after he was brought in to clear the Prime Minister’s workplace of mice in 2011. It was implied then that he was too lazy to catch a cold, let alone a mouse. Last month, the commentator Matthew D’Ancona alleged that Larry was also unloved.

The latter claim was denied and a Downing Street source told me that this allegedly work-shy cat was actually a demon mouser, who had caught four mice in two weeks.

The plot thickens. I am now informed that some days ago, Larry the hardworking Downing Street mouser caught a mouse in the yard behind Downing Street and was playing with it when a furious member of staff emerged, accused the cat of wanton cruelty, and rescued the mouse.

This leads me to conclude that there is a faction in Downing Street working to undermine Larry by briefing that he cannot catch mice, while another faction seeks to big him up as a veritable mouse slaughterer, while a third undertakes mouse rescue activities. This government is split from top to bottom.

‘The youth are taking over’, MP squeaks

It is not often said that the problem with Britain is that the people who run it are too young, but Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, 44, came close as MPs discussed reform of the House of Lords. “We are not quite being run by schoolchildren, but the youth of today are taking over. Where are the octogenarians and nonagenarians? They are in the House of Lords. That is a good thing,” he said.

Talk among friends

The former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth has updated the Oxford Book of Humorous Quotations, published this week. His modesty shines in his introduction, in which he informs his readers: “There is almost no one who was born over the past one hundred years and who is quoted in the Dictionary whom I have not met. Kingsley Amis, Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Maurice Bowra, Craig Brown, George Burns, Quentin Crisp, TS Eliot, Jackie Mason, John Mortimer, Joan Rivers, Stephen Sondheim, Tom Stoppard, Peter Ustinov, the Queen – I’ve known them all. Well, I have shaken their hands... It’s a start.”

Tory councillor discovers cannabis

Roger Oakley, a Conservative councillor in Worthing, on the Sussex coast, was out doing some groundwork on a possible new cycle route, which took him tramping through some waste ground where there used to be a council tip years ago, when he came upon five large, carefully cultivated plants growing in a circle, surrounded by canes. Someone in Worthing has been growing their own cannabis.

“The site must have had around a dozen plants there initially. You could see that some had already been harvested. We also recovered a number of leaves lying around on the ground,” Councillor Oakley told the Worthing Herald.

Clark ‘lazy, brilliant’

The Tory peer Michael Dobbs, writing in the free-sheet Waitrose Weekend, has offered a succinct verdict of the former Defence minister and Thatcher-worshipper, Alan Clark and his 1980s diaries: “He was the laziest minister I knew. His breaches of confidence are disgraceful. Sexist, arrogant, disloyal. These diaries should never have been published. Yet they are brilliant.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea