Andy McSmith's Diary: 'Solo' Campbell begins his campaign with an own goal

Ready he may be, but is he actually a Conservative?

“In football, you have got to be a team player. I was a team player. You have got to have that kind of togetherness if you want to make things happen,” Sol Campbell said, explaining why he is qualified to be the next Tory mayor of London.

Beverley Turner, interviewing him for LBC, protested: “You will have to be so well behaved. You will have to have no skeletons in your closet.” To which Campbell replied: “I’m ready for that.”

Ready he may be, but is he actually a Conservative? He pointed out, quite rightly, that he does not have to be Labour just because he comes from a Labour family, and you can see what he means when he says that being a Conservative is “about lifting yourself up”. But a more obvious function of the Conservative Party is defending the free market.

Campbell said he would defend black-cab drivers against competition from Uber, prevent people who have bought affordable homes from reselling at the market price, and did not seem to know whether he supports the Tory policy of allowing housing association tenants to buy their homes. And when asked about immigration controls, he went into a eulogy about London’s ethnic diversity. Not very Team Conservative.

Not that it matters, because he was wrong on the first point, and so was Turner. London has yet to elect a mayor who could be described as a team player, a tag that never attached itself to Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson. And they both have enough skeletons rattling in the closets to supply a bone-marrow factory.

As for Campbell’s claim that he is a team player: run that past a Tottenham fan.

Pushing the votes out

Dominic Cummings, who is organising an Out campaign ahead of the EU referendum, has said there should be not one referendum, but two. He suggests that people may be more inclined to risk voting to leave the EU in the first referendum if they know there is a second on the way.

The case is well argued, but imagine how this suggestion would go down if it were put to David Cameron. Not for nothing did Cameron once  describe Cummings as a “career psychopath”.

Getting off on the wrong foot

As David Cameron does another round of informal chats with EU leaders this week, it is to be hoped he manages not to offend any of them in the way in which he apparently offended Richard Desmond, the billionaire owner of the Daily Express.

In his memoir, The Real Deal, Desmond claims: “At one party we both attended, my supposed new friend and ally came up to me and, just as I expected to hear a friendly ‘Hello, Richard!’, trod on my foot and pushed me aside in his rush to get to Rupert [Murdoch].

“He then did the same thing at a charity event… He even trod on my foot once to get to Sly Bailey, who used to run [Trinity] Mirror. Maybe he thought he could be so sure of our support that he did not need to bother.”

Desmond’s revenge was donating £1.3m to Ukip.

Sheepish behaviour

“I’m married to Mary. So you can imagine the ribbing I got when we had our first son… because Mary had a little lamb” – said Norman Lamb, a contender for the Liberal Democrat party leadership, during a debate on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Leading question

The latest figures from the Labour Party show that 259,372 people are qualified to vote in the forthcoming leadership election. They are 246,469 party members, another 9,115 who have paid £3 to become “registered supporters”, and just 3,788 recruited through the trade unions. Is the next Labour leader going to be chosen by the trade union vote, as Ed Miliband was? No, not on these numbers.

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