Andy McSmith's Diary: One sympathetic Tory sought to co-write leader’s biography

 

Of all the people David Cameron might choose to write his biography, Michael Ashcroft must surely be near the bottom of the list.

He knows too much, having been Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party during the first five years of Cameron’s leadership, with an office next to Cameron’s.

Since 2010, he and the Prime Minister have grown apart, and Lord Ashcroft has reinvented himself as a social media mogul, pollster and political commentator who turned up at the Labour Party conference this year and was so obviously enjoying himself that he needed to put out a message afterwards saying: “If you’re worried that I  am about to switch sides, don’t be.”

Nothing annoys practising politicians quite so much as criticism by people they think ought to be on their side, which makes me think that this book will cause the crimson tide to rise to Cameron’s hair line.

Isabel Oakeshott, outgoing political editor of the Sunday Times, will be co-author.

Biblical mistakes

On a day when Baroness Warsi made a speech proclaiming that the Coalition is bringing religion back into politics, David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth – not to be confused with the better-known former minister, David Davis – managed to invoke Abraham, Moses and the disciples in support of the Government’s “spare room surcharge”, otherwise known as the “bedroom tax”.

“I even had someone email me here. He said, ‘You’re a Christian, you should be serving the Lord, one day you will stand by the Lord and account for this hardship’,” Mr Davies told the Commons.

“And I wrote back and said, ‘I read my bible, I don’t see anywhere in the bible where it says 17-year-olds should be given a flat but I see plenty of examples of people who have had to move for a better way of life, whether it was Abraham going off to the Promised Land or Moses, or the disciples who toured all over Europe’. They all moved.”

Hang on: I didn’t know that Abraham went to the Promised Land, though I know there was a moment when he was on the point of downsizing his family. Moses travelled, as I recall, but did not arrive. And Europe? Which of the 12 disciples toured Europe?

Chequers mystery guests

There is an announcement on the Downing Street website that “details published today include the annual list of visitors to Chequers that have received Government hospitality”. Note that word “annual”. That “annual” list was published on 15 July, 2011. There has not been an “annual” list since. Might it be time for another?

More Bercow brickbats

As if the Speaker, John Bercow, were not unpopular enough with the Tory high command already, he struck again today. He offered a public rebuke to the Chancellor, George Osborne, for taking to Twitter to announce that the Autumn Statement has been postponed for one day to give David Cameron time to get back from his visit to China.

“Announcements should be made to the House, not by the mechanism of Twitter,” Bercow said.

Maggie’s link to Fenton

Today’s odd but interesting fact from the early life of Margaret Thatcher is lifted from a footnote in Charles Moore’s biography of the lady. There have been more than 9.7 million visits to the YouTube clip starring Fenton the disobedient dog spreading panic among the deer in Richmond Park.

It has inspired a range of spin-offs, including an “official” Fenton website where you can purchase Fenton merchandise.

What almost no one knew was that Max Findlay, Fenton’s owner, heard in the viral clip crying “Jesus Christ!” as he hares off in desperate pursuit of Fenton, is the son of an executive in the paper industry named Neil Findlay, who was himself forlornly pursued by a lonely young Margaret Roberts during their university days. “Margaret was smitten with Neil, a fact of which he was half aware… He felt a little sorry for her,” Moore records.

Tomorrow: how Margaret Roberts offloaded a surplus boyfriend.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
News
news
News
peopleCampaign 'to help protect young people across the world'
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

News
i100
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths NQT required for a fant...

Additional Learning Support Tutor: Employability

£17662 - £21100 per annum: Randstad Education Sheffield: Additional Learning S...

Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:SECONDARY teachers need...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker