Andy McSmith's Diary: I’m proud of my part in the 'worst journalism ever'

An email to savour from an (ex-)advisor to Nigel Farage

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Indy Politics

I savour the email I received less than a week before polling day from Raheem Kassam, who was then one of Nigel Farage’s advisers. He is not any more. He was one of the pair Ukip’s economics spokesman Patrick O’Flynn had in mind when he claimed that Nigel Farage had been led astray by “wrong ‘uns”.

The email had the tag line “worst journalism ever” and told me that I suffered from a “complete lack of understanding of polling and of basic journalism”. I had been to South Thanet and concluded that because the Conservatives were better organised, Farage was likely to lose. Mr Kassam knew for a fact that Farage was marching to victory.

‘Naughty Nigel’, the lesson

Turning to the Department of Education’s Primary National Strategy document, one of the books primary school children are expected to study is Tony Ross’s Naughty Nigel. Teachers are urged to read it to the children, and then throw out questions for discussion, such as “Can Nigel change the way he behaves?” Any four-year-old who knows the answer should contact Ukip.

Farron spared kiss of death

Tim Farron’s campaign to be the next Liberal Democrat leader is doing well, though it almost hit the rocks yesterday when Lembit Opik, former Lib Dem MP for Montgomeryshire, was asked on Daily Politics whom he was backing.

Opik is a lovable disaster. He gave his unqualified backing to the party’s leader Charles Kennedy in 2006. Almost at once Kennedy was forced out of office. He ran Mark Oaten’s leadership campaign. Oaten did not just lose; his career collapsed in scandal. In 2010, he lost Montgomeryshire, which had been a Liberal seat almost without interruption since 1886. Since then, he has tried many things, but nothing has worked.

Had Opik uttered the fatal words “I’m backing Tim”, the Curse of Opik would have guaranteed that the next Lib Dem leader would be anyone but Farron. Mercifully, he replied: “Any time I back anyone they always lose, so I can’t say.”

Lib Dems mowed down again

It is good that the Lib Dems have attracted thousands of new members since last week’s massacre of MPs. One of these recruits, Dr Simon Gilbert, has written a blog explaining why running the party is like mowing the lawn. To do either, he argues, you must look neither to the left, nor the right, but directly ahead. You could say the same about jumping off  a cliff.

How to speak mandarin…

To show that the Civil Service is moving with the times, the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has posted more than 80 tweets. The 81st landed him in a spot of bother. It included a photo of David Cameron meeting the Civil Service heads of department, which quickly drew a long string of sarcastic responses because every one was a middle-aged white male in a suit. Each, apart from Cameron, wore a tie. Stung by the reaction, Sir Jeremy followed it up with another tweet. “Judge diversity in the Civil Service by facts not photos,” he pleaded.

‘Mail’ purges Cameron critics

Today, the Daily Mail says farewell to its former star columnist Simon Heffer, who was on the payroll until this week though he was silenced weeks ago because of his inveterate hostility to David Cameron. His last column was aptly headlined “Goodbye to the Man Who Could Never Admit He Got It All Wrong.” Actually, it was a reference to Ed Balls, not the Heff. Meanwhile, in the Mail on Sunday, the Peter Hitchens column has failed to appear for two weeks. That looks like a purge of two of Cameron’s right-wing critics.