Andy McSmith's Diary: The not-so-great, great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria


I was curious to know the meaning of the expression “bush hooker”, after it was used by a Tory MP to attack the Environment Agency over its handling of the floods in Somerset. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater, may have a valid complaint, though calling the agency’s staff “a load of bush hookers who are absolutely useless” was not the most tactful way he could have expressed himself. I read that in Australia, “bush hooker” is slang for a lesbian prostitute, while elsewhere the phrase refers to sex workers who operate outdoors. Neither is an accurate description of the staff of the Environment Agency, so far as I know.

They are not alone in being insulted by the relentless Mr Liddell-Grainger. On his website you read that the former chief executive of Somerset County Council, Alan Jones, is “stupid”, that its director of resources, Roger Kershaw, is “crazy”, and its head of human resources, Richard Crouch, is “creepy”.

Ian Richard Peregrine Liddell-Grainger, to give him his full moniker, is a great, great, great grandson of Queen Victoria, on his mother’s side, and Grainger Street, in Newcastle upon Tyne, is named after one of his paternal ancestors, the builder, Richard Grainger. So you are being insulted by quality when you are being insulted by him.

Yeo near, and yet so far

Search the BBC website and you can still find an article posted in July 2005, speculating on who might succeed Michael Howard as the next Conservative leader. Top of the list was David Davis – remember him? – in fourth place a young-looking David Cameron, and two places further down, Tim Yeo. Sic transit gloria.

Salmond fishing for a Tory

David Cameron has made it abundantly clear that he does not want to appear with Alex Salmond to debate Scottish independence. The Scottish First Minister is determined to go head to head with Cameron, because the Scots’ aversion to being ruled by southern English Tories is one of the SNP’s strongest arguments.

This could cause problems later this month, when the Cabinet is due to have an away day in Scotland, and the Scottish government will be meeting not far away. Will Salmond let slip this opportunity to grandstand by turning up in front of the cameras outside the place where the Cabinet will be meeting?  I think not.

Thanks for the support, Dad

“Put a journalist in a politician’s job, that’s what happens,” John Prescott exclaimed, discussing the latest Michael Gove controversy on Sky News. Lord Prescott’s son, David, has been trying hard to get himself adopted as a Labour candidate, and if he is elected, he probably would not be the type to want to spend his entire career as a backbench MP. On his website, David Prescott declares: “I was a journalist for more than 15 years.” Better not put him in a politician’s job.

Now with free sick-bag!

A great weekend promotion by the Daily Telegraph: two free Heston Blumenthal booklets, containing more than 40 recipes. But which one will give you norovirus?

Is working for Nick that bad?

I so meant to congratulate Emma Gilpin-Jacobs, former chief PR person for the Financial Times,  when it was announced in November that she was taking over as Liberal Democrat Director of Communications. Then, over the weekend, came news that she has packed it in already because, she told PR Week: “My experience will be better utilised in a less day-to-day political operational role” – so I guess I’m too late.

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