Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall, emphasised the importance of trade with his country during a speech at a reception in Manchester, pointing out that we consume a great deal of what the Irish call whiskey, but the Scots call whisky. “They claim to have invented it, but they don’t even know how to spell it,” he remarked. “The reason they have so many brands is they still haven’t found the right formula.” Someone should try that gag at next week’s SNP conference in Aberdeen.
Labour emigrés for hire
At least a dozen former Labour MPs are scattered among the thousands at Conservative conference. This is not because they have been invited into George Osborne’s big tent, like Andrew Adonis. But after being sacked by the electorate, they have to find work where they can. Then they must face the indignity of lobbying or running a stall and being as ingratiating as they can to members of the party that was responsible for getting them sacked.
Anything for Denis?
The second volume of Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher is replete with vignettes about her and the people around her, including two concerning Denis Thatcher’s crying need for gin. When the Thatchers were in Beijing in 1982 arguing over the future of Hong Kong, they were treated coldly by their Chinese hosts, who put them in poor accommodation and snubbed her when she hosted a banquet. But when Denis complained in the privacy of his room that he had no gin and tonic, the Chinese spooks who had bugged the room had one delivered.
Denis did not accompany his wife to the Commonwealth summit in Nassau in 1985, but civil service records show that on departing she spent $6.50 on cigarettes and $4.97 on gin in the duty free shop. Since she neither smoked nor drank, she was obviously shopping for Denis.