Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: The man who didn’t hate Britain but did kill a cat


Ed Miliband has won an unexpected gong at the annual Spectator political awards for his speech to this year’s Labour Party conference. Unexpected because the magazine’s editor, Fraser Nelson, thought that the speech was constructed around “a dangerous principle, dug out of its 1970s grave and held up for applause”.

The Labour leader was not at the lunch to receive the award in person, but recorded a speech on video explaining that he had not put the date in his diary because he never expected to win, and claiming that he was busy battling with the Sunday Sport.

He held up the headline that was the source of contention – “Ed Miliband’s dad killed my kitten”. The complainant, whose name was Eunice, alleged that one night, she went out to look for her cat, Winston. “I shouted, ‘Come here, Winston,’” she recounted, “but at that moment a young sailor came pedalling down the road on his bike… He was obviously steaming drunk. He barrelled into Winston, squishing him flat, then carried on as if nothing happened. That man was Ralph Miliband.”

In relating this story, Ed Miliband used that journalistic cliché “You couldn’t make it up”. I rather suspect that someone has.

Universally challenged

Jeremy Paxman has caught it from both directions over that infamous interview with Russell Brand. Nick Clegg was not impressed by the broadcaster’s subsequent comments to the effect that modern politics is almost as dire as Brand claims. “Here’s a guy, what does he get paid? A million pounds, or thereabouts, paid by taxpayers. He lives off politics, and he spends all his time sneering at politics,” the Deputy Prime Minister complained on LBC.

Meanwhile The Socialist, the Trotskyite organ, raves about Brand. “Paxman was left utterly exposed as the capitalist media pawn that he is, left speechless by the quick-witted comedian,” its reviewer wrote. Anyone who has Nick Clegg and the Trots lined up against him must have got something right.

Keeping counsel

Strange things are happening in the Tory-controlled London borough of Wandsworth. Robert Morritt, the former election agent, was elected to the council in May 2010, as a Tory, but he is not a Tory councillor any more, because he has had the  whip removed.

He is still a party member, though, because the Putney Conservatives debated a proposal this week to expel him, but rejected it. Officially, nobody knows why, outside a tight group of local Conservatives – though rumours have seeped into the Guido Fawkes website that it is to do with money. Rex Osborn, the leader of the Labour group in Wandsworth, said: “If he has had the whip removed, he must have done something wrong. What is it? They won’t say.”

Melting point

This could be the start of something small. Mike Nattrass, the MEP and former deputy leader of Ukip who not long ago denounced Nigel Farage as “totalitarian”, launched a new party, An Independence Party, in a pub in Droitwich last night. He has picked up sufficient support from colleagues  for the Droitwich Spa Advertiser to describe  Ukip as being “in meltdown” in Worcestershire.

Following hard on the rift in Lincolnshire which has led to there being two competing Ukip groups on the county council, it suggests that Ukip is following the rule that small parties disintegrate at the first hint of success.

Unfaithful friends

The appearance of the three heads of the security services before a Commons committee is a good enough excuse to reprint what – according to the book Body of Secrets, by James Bamford – is the spooks’ motto: “In God we trust; all others we monitor.”

Shame old story

Scales are falling from the eyes of Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League. He tweeted: “Leaving the EDL has given me a chance to look from the outside in! I’m embarrassed by some of the complete racist morons I represented.”