Andy McSmith's Diary: Have you met Mr Jones? No? Yeah, I thought as much

Our man in Manchester


Prior to David Cameron’s highly publicised address to the Conservative conference, the audience heard from David Jones, the Secretary of State for Wales. I fear there are people in this country who will go through their entire lives without knowing that there is a Conservative member of the government called David Jones, let alone hearing a David Jones speech.

The most interesting claim in this much unreported peroration is that the rail link to Swansea is to be electrified. “Contrast that with Labour’s 13 years in power, when Wales remained the only country in Europe, apart from Albania, without a single centimetre of electrified track,” Mr Jones added.

I am not sure this claim is actually true. The little princedom of Monaco has just one railway station served by a short piece of track connecting it to Nice: I did not think that was electrified – but doubtless some geek out there will tell me that it is. And as far as I know, there is no rail track of any description running through the Vatican City. But leaving aside such quibbles, I will file that comparison between Wales and Albania under ‘Fascinating Things I have Learnt from David Jones’.

You might want to ‘go your own way’, Mr Cameron

David Cameron left the conference stage to the sound of the old Fleetwood Mac hit “Don’t Stop”.

Recorded in 1977, the song was in constant use during Bill Clinton’s triumphant presidential campaign in 1992. President Clinton even persuaded the band to reform for his inaugural ball the following year, and the song continues to accompany his appearances at Democrat National Conventions to this day.

I can understand why David Cameron might want a touch of the Clinton magic, but if he must use a Fleetwood Mac number as his theme tune, would not “Shake Your Money Maker” be more Tory?

Keep your friends close,  your degenerates closer

The Daily Mail has taken a mixed attitude to the notorious former Downing Street spinner, Damian McBride.

On the one hand, they paid handsomely for McBride’s memoirs and cited his claim that Ed Miliband is “obsessed” with his father, Ralph, as if McBride were the epitome of trustworthy sources.

But further down the same editorial attacking Ed Miliband and his father, they pronounced that the Labour leader’s “close involvement with degenerates such as Damian McBride gives him scant right to claim the moral high ground on anything.”

Anyway, here is some good news for the boys at the Mail: just when the going is tough, the ‘moral degenerate’ has risen to their defence. “The Ralph Miliband stuff is wrong, but to condemn an entire paper for it – and by extension its readers – is equally wrong and daft,” McBride tweeted.

When in doubt, just ask an idiot

And as the Daily Mail trawled the social media looking for someone they could quote in their defence, whom should they alight on but an individual they call ‘Dan Hodges, Labour Blogger’ who thought that their denunciation of Ralph Miliband was “fair.”

For the record, Hodges is not a ‘Labour’ blogger. His mother is the Labour MP, Glenda Jackson, and he used to be in the Labour Party, but he left in August, and earns a living by attacking Ed Miliband.

I note that the Mail has latched on to Lenin’s phrase ‘useful idiot’ this week. If a right-wing newspaper wants to quote this particular blogger again, they could perhaps call him ‘Dan Hodges, Useful Idiot.’

Larry: the cat who got the... mice, apparently

To my shame, I have defamed an occupant of 10 Downing Street.

In my Diary earlier this week, I described Larry the cat, who was introduced to Downing Street in 2011 to clear the building of mice, as “too lazy for the task”. I based this comment on a series of frankly negative briefings by Downing Street spinners about Larry’s allegedly unsatisfactory record during his first months in residence.

However, I am informed by Downing Street that Larry has caught four mice in the past two weeks. On that basis I have no hesitation in withdrawing the word ‘lazy’ as applied to the feline who is –  to me at least, from hereon – ‘Larry the Downing Street Mouser’.

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