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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: The Tories’ new strategy: say Unite and Len McCluskey as often as possible

The more times a Tory can mention Unite and Falkirk, the happier they are

Linda Gow, the former leader of Falkirk council, admits to being “disappointed” and is said to be “stunned” that she is not going to be the town’s next Labour MP.

She was one of the original contenders when the seat became vacant because of Eric Joyce’s fist-flailing activities in a Commons bar. Another was Karie Murphy, who was backed by the Unite union. Councillor Gow was the one who first alleged that Unite was trying to rig the ballot. She thus helped set in motion events which meant that Christmas came early for the Conservatives.

The more times a Tory can mention Unite and Falkirk, the happier they are. In one half-hour long session of Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron mentioned Unite 10 times and its leader, Len McCluskey, five times.

On Thursday, The Daily Telegraph website ran a “15 facts you need to know” about Falkirk, written by the Tory MP Priti Patel. In the circumstances, Councillor Gow need not be surprised that the party has decided on a shortlist of three, none of whom has had any part in this mess. They are Pam Duncan, a disability rights campaigner, Monica Lennon, a young councillor from Hamilton, and Karen Whitefield, who was a member of the Scottish Parliament for 12 years.

Blunt actions

Having survived an attempt to get rid of him, Crispin Blunt, the Tory MP for Reigate, is out for retribution. He says that the leading members of the executive of his local party, who declined to readopt him as their candidate for 2015, have lost touch with their members, 80 per cent of whom backed Mr Blunt in a ballot. He has called for the resignations of the chair. Rita Renton, treasurer Richard Coad and president John Mill. They have not yet responded.

Ordure, ordure (Part 1)

That story in The Sun that David Cameron had told his staff to “get rid of all the green crap” gave Labour MPs an excuse to say “crap” in the Commons, which they have seized with gusto. Ed Miliband led the way at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, reading out a tweet which included the hashtag #greencrap. Yesterday, the Labour MP Karl Turner invited the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, to say what he thought of the phrase. Half an hour later, Bill Esterson asked the leader of the Commons, Andrew Lansley: “May we have a debate on what the Prime Minister means by ‘green crap’?” At this point the Speaker, John Bercow, decided to issue a caution: “I think that you were quoting. In those circumstances, the use of such a word is perfectly orderly, but I would not want colleagues to think that it is to be encouraged ordinarily, for it is not.”

Ordure, ordure (Part 2)

But on that subject, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, told MPs earlier in the week: “For the first time, we are opening a market for businesses to recycle and re-use waste water as a new water resource. They will also be able to purchase sewage sludge that might otherwise have been sent to landfill– for example, for use in anaerobic digestion plants.” So they don’t just say it: they sell it.

Hogwarts must try harder

Wyedean School and Sixth Form Centre in the Forest of Dean, where J K Rowling was head girl in 1982, and where her mother worked, and where there was a chemistry teacher on whom Harry Potter’s tormentor Severus Snape is reputedly modelled, has failed its Ofsted inspection, the Western Daily Press reports. The inspectors’ report noted that “achievement is particularly low in English”.