Andy McSmith's Diary: Harman’s next problem is a son who’s paid to make mischief online


As if Harriet Harman and her husband, Jack Dromey, have not been through enough lately, trouble may creep up on their family from another direction.

Several senior Labour figures have contributed to the widespread condemnation of the bookies, Paddy Power, over a publicity stunt, offering to take bets on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial. An advert for the firm read: “It’s Oscar Time. Money Back If He Walks. We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is found not guilty.”

The shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, tweeted: “Reeva Steenkamp was killed. A woman’s death is not sport, @paddypower. Sick & shameful to run bets on trial. Urge you to remove & apologise.” Thousands have signed an online petition making the same demand.

This is awkward because Harry Dromey, son of Harriet and Jack, is employed by Paddy Power to dream up naughty stunts. The publicity for a conference at which he is due to speak, in April, bills him as Paddy Power’s “Mischief Champion”, adding: “Harry is part of Paddy Power’s Department of Mischief. He creates mischievous, eye-catching stunts and campaigns to communicate what the brand is all about.”

Another comic turn for Ukip

Nigel Farage has brushed off suggestions that the jokes that comic Paul Eastwood told at the Ukip conference dinner were racist, though they were directed at Poles, Somalis, and Muslim immigrants. The good news for those who fell about laughing at Eastwood’s performance is they now have someone else to amuse them.

Geoff Rowe, a Cornish stand-up comic who uses the stage name Jethro, has announced that he is joining Ukip, having given up hope that the Tories will ever pull us out of the EU.

I do not know if Jethro does jokes about racial stereotypes, but I know that he has a line in comic misogyny. His best-known television appearance was on Jim Davidson’s television show, when they both corpsed as they tried to tell a joke about sticking a finger in a dyke (gerrit?).

Another Jethro joke: “Alcohol killed my first wife. I got home drunk one night and shot her.”

There are others that are worse. I am sure he will be at home in Ukip.

The Mogg peers into future

“Who, having entered the Elysian fields, wants to come back down to Earth?” the Tory MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, demanded as he opposed a plan to allow peers to retire. “It seems extraordinary in the first place that anyone would want to leave those glorious red benches and the gilt around the throne, the magnificence that the House of Lords shows to the world, and trot out into the humdrum life.”

“Is this a job application?” a Labour MP shouted.

“I am by no means grand enough to enter their lordships’ house,” replied the Mogg. “I like representing the British people – vox populi, vox Dei – through this illustrious chamber.”

It is, of course, rubbish to suggest that the Mogg is “not grand enough” to be a lord. The question is whether the House of Lords is grand enough to accommodate the Mogg.

Not-so-Popular suggestion

Politicians give the unemployed all sorts of advice about how to better their circumstances. But Andrés Martínez López, a councillor from the ruling Partido Popular in Villarrobledo, in Albacete province, in Spain, appears to have gone too far when he suggested that a 21-year-old, jobless mother should either put her child out for adoption, or take up prostitution. The rival Partido Socialista is calling for his resignation.

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